Panel of Political Experts Answer the Question: ELECTION ’14: THE VOTERS SPEAK, WHAT DID THEY SAY?

November 6, 2014

21_Panelist Jonathan Tilove, Austin American-Statesman, and Wayne Slater, The Dallas Morning News

Panelist Jonathan Tilove, Austin American-Statesman, and Wayne Slater, The Dallas Morning News

On Thurs., Nov. 6, 2014, a panel of journalists surveyed election results for a sold-out crowd attending the latest Distinguished Speakers Series presentation at Headliners.

Moderated by Austin American-Statesman columnist Ken Herman, the panel included his Statesmancolleague Jonathan Tilove; Peggy Fikac, who writes for the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle combo; and Wayne Slater, senior political writer for The Dallas Morning News.

Responding to Herman’s call for a “lightning round” of reactions, Fikac said “voters like things the way they are and doubled down on Republican leadership.”  Tilove added that “non-voters said they didn’t really care.”  And Slater suggested that Battleground Texas was really “Battleship Texas – they went straight to the bottom.”

Lots of comments focused on Wendy Davis’ losing gubernatorial bid.  Because of that result, said Fikac, the Democrats are worse off because “it will be harder to get the charismatic candidate they want to run (in the future).”

Slater said Republicans might swing things too far in one direction as a result of their continued dominance, which might be “the best thing the Democrats have going for them.”

The management of the Davis campaign came in for plenty of criticism, with Tilove noting that the candidate’s people wouldn’t even let their supporters speak to reporters at campaign events.  He said reporters “used to have a lot more access to candidates.”  Slater called the campaign’s effort to keep Davis from talking to the media “an ill conceived and amateurish approach,” even though “she had some really good people around her.”  Slater suggested that Davis “talks like a CPA and acts like a Harvard lawyer (and) never connected with anything,” adding that Davis failed to pitch Greg Abbott as an insider.

Nevertheless, there was some sentiment that Davis was stopped before she started.  Said Slater, “First, people don’t like Barack Obama.  He’s not popular here.  And a Democrat in a ‘red state’ like Texas didn’t have a chance.”

What about some of the candidates who did win?  “Abbott is a very pragmatic guy.  He’s a winner.”  Slater on Cruz: “He’s a star.”  Herman on Cruz: “People who dismiss him do so at their own peril.”  Fikac on Cruz: “Very smart.  People prayed for Cruz.  They see him as a true leader.”  Fikac on Dan Patrick: “I think he may surprise us, actually.”  Tilove on Patrick: “A very skilled performer.”  Herman on George P. Bush: “A very impressive young man.”

To watch the full presentation, activate the video below. To view photos from the event, click here.

Headliners Foundation 11/6/14 from Headliners Foundation on Vimeo.