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Just How Poorly Did Wendy Davis Do Last Night?

Inside newsrooms, Wendy Davis couldn’t be more popular. But with Texas voters, even after massive outreach efforts, Wendy Davis is struggling.


The same media that lavishly praised Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis (Did you see those shoes! No! Don’t worry! We won’t mention late-term abortion if you don’t!) probably is not the one to give any good analysis of last night’s primary results in Texas.

But Davis critic Will Franklin notes something of interest:

The Texas Democrats’ primary performance Tuesday was an unmitigated disaster, and the performance of Wendy Davis was particularly abysmal.

The Austin American-Statesman set up a few benchmarks the day before the primary:

“So is all the hoopla around Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas just so much hype, or are Democratic prospects truly better than four years ago?

“A first test will be whether the party primary draws more than the 680,000 voters who participated four years ago, and if Davis exceeds White’s 517,487 votes in a seven-person field. One would assume that a healthy number of new voters registered by Battleground Texas’ 5,700 volunteer deputy registrars would want to take advantage of their first opportunity to exercise their franchise.”

At last count, with 8,742 of 8,745 (99.97%) reporting, Wendy Davis had just 432,025 votes, or 79.05% of the primary vote in a two-person race. All told, 546,480 Democrats voted in the 2014 primary.

Failure, in other words.

David Hawkings at Roll Call says that Davis’ problem is, somehow, that she’s just so gosh-darn popular. But Rasmussen, which is out with its first poll on the race, suggests that Davis’ popularity isn’t as big outside of newsrooms. As in, she’s underwater on the likeability question:

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott leads Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis by 12 points in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at the 2014 Texas gubernatorial race.

The latest statewide survey of Likely Texas Voters shows Abbott with 53% support to 41% for Davis. At this early point in the campaign, there are surprisingly few voters who haven’t already made up their minds: One percent (1%) likes some other candidate in the race, and four percent (4%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Both candidates are well-known in the state, but Davis, at this early juncture, is viewed Very Unfavorably by 34% of the state’s voters, compared to just 17% who feel that way about Abbott. Thirty-four percent (34%) have a Very Favorable opinion of the GOP candidate, while 22% view Davis Very Favorably.

The Texas Tribune picks up on the fact that Davis did remarkably poorly in border counties. As in, she lost them:

Davis’ organizing efforts, and those of Battleground Texas, have focused on mobilizing the state’s growing Hispanic population, with an added emphasis on registering new voters to boost turnout. Davis’ campaign has also continued to attack Abbott for a statement he made on the campaign trail comparing corruption in South Texas to “third world country practices.”

Mark P. Jones, a political scientist at Rice University, said Davis’ showing in border communities should be alarming for the campaign because of how crucial increasing voter turnout is to her candidacy.

“These are dark blue counties,” Jones said. “… She needs to be winning those counties with 85 to 90 percent of the vote.”

Here’s a map showing Wendy Davis’ showing and another map showing which counties President Obama won in 2012. She actually lost many of the counties that Obama won:

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