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The Brief: Nov. 5, 2014

As the night lengthened on Tuesday, the real contest, it seemed, was to find a fitting description as to how thoroughly Democrats were taken to the woodshed both in Texas and nationally.

Greg Abbott celebrates his victory over Wendy Davis on Nov. 4, 2014.

The Big Conversation

As the night lengthened on Tuesday, the real contest, it seemed, was to find a fitting description as to how thoroughly Democrats were taken to the woodshed both in Texas and nationally.

Republicans made a clean sweep of the statewide executive offices, as was expected. And they flipped the state Senate seat that belongs to defeated Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, bringing Republicans to a single vote of a supermajority in the chamber.

And in the Texas House, Republicans were headed toward a net gain of three seats, taking unexpected victories in Bexar and Harris counties. Those wins would put the GOP in control of 98 seats in the House, two votes away from a supermajority in that chamber.

This was, in essence, the chronicle of a rout foretold where the real contests took place earlier this year in the GOP primaries.

With Davis and Leticia Van de Putte at the head of the Democratic ticket, the two women "presented Republicans with unexpectedly energetic opposition, able to raise enough money to pose a real threat," wrote the Tribune's Ross Ramsey. "And some of the campaign-trained veterans of Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns had decided to try to turn Texas into a swing state. Battleground Texas, they said, would be a long-term effort to engage Democrats in the state who voted infrequently or not at all.

"Their efforts to turn out new Democratic voters were all but invisible in the wake of the red political wind that swept the state. According to exit polling from CNN, Abbott had majorities among men, women and Anglo voters, while Davis prevailed among minority voters.

"And whatever they were doing at the top of the ticket was not enough to buoy Democrats down the ballot. The concerted vote production efforts by Democrats in Dallas County, for example, were not enough to produce wins for their House challengers to Republicans in swing districts there in spite of strong straight-ticket Democratic voting in Dallas."

Despite the publicity around their candidacy, Davis and Van de Putte were both headed to a sub-40 percent showing. Democrats came into Tuesday wondering if Davis would outperform Bill White's 2010 result. On Wednesday morning, though, Democrats had to reckon with the likelihood that Davis wouldn't top Tony Sanchez's performance in 2002.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov.-elect Greg Abbott holds a press conference at 11:30 a.m. in the Texas Capitol "to initiate the transition process," according to a statement from his campaign.

•    Tribune CEO and editor-in-chief Evan Smith, executive editor Ross Ramsey and editor Emily Ramshaw will discuss election results at 8 a.m. with TribCast host Reeve Hamilton. We will livestream the conversation from the Austin Club for those unable to make it in person.

Trib Must-Reads

Greg Abbott Crushes Wendy Davis In GOP Sweep, by Jay Root

Patrick Wins Big in Bid for Lieutenant Governor, by Alexa Ura

Gallego Out While Cornyn Cruises to Victory, by Julián Aguilar

Republicans Extend Statewide Streak to 16 Years, by Aman Batheja

Democrats Also Drubbed in State House, Senate Races, by Jim Malewitz

Denton Bans Fracking, But Challenges Almost Certain, by Jim Malewitz

Voters Overwhelmingly Back State Roads Proposition, by John Reynolds

Elsewhere

Fikac: Abbott held all the cards in gov race, San Antonio Express-News

Kennedy: After abortion filibuster, Democrats didn’t have a prayer, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Mapping The Changing Face Of The Lone Star State, FiveThirtyEight

Appeals court to weigh Texas abortion law in January, Houston Chronicle

Road fund supporters say big election win will fuel more efforts, Houston Chronicle

$1 billion rail, roads proposal rejected, Austin American-Statesman

Universities again seeking billions for construction from legislators, Austin American-Statesman

Falling oil prices produce dilemma, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"I didn't lose any (money) & I come out to about the same margin as everybody else."

— Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate Jim Hogan to the Houston Chronicle's Lauren McGaughy (link)

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick on Nov. 6 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Dec. 4 at The Austin Club

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