11/3/2009 9:50 PM
With 77 percent of precincts reporting, it appears all of the 11 constitutional amendments submitted to voters passed. This follows the pattern of past cycles, where Texas voters rarely reject proposed amendments to the Texas constitution. Part of the reason for a high success rate is the two-thirds-of-membership threshhold required to submit an amendment to the voters. The only ballot items that appear to be receiving less than 60 percent of the vote are propositions 1 and 4 (military facilities and research universities).
Proposition 1 passed handily in counties with military installations and did not do as well elsewhere.
The ramifications of Proposition 4 are a bit more complicated. This proposition redirects and existing higher education endowment to encourage a handful of state universities to achieve so-called "Tier One" status. The University of Houston was one of the universities expected to benefit from this change, and Houstonian and former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby spent $100,000 leading the campaign for it. The proposition did very well in the Houston metropolitan area -- including the surrounding suburban counties -- and that provided the margin of victory.
Where Proposition 4 did not do well was in other Republican-leaning areas of the state. Rural voters didn't buy Proposition 4. It lost both Midland and Ector counties. But it won big in Lubbock (location of Texas Tech University -- one of the beneficiaries of the funding) and Potter and Randall Counties (which have a lot of Tech alumni). The amendment lost in Comal, Williamson, and Brazos Counties. Smith and Gregg Counties (Tyler and Longview) also voted no. The suburbs of Dallas were a mixed bag, with Collin and Denton Counties voting in favor, while Wise, Parker, Ellis, and Johnson counties voted no. UT-Dallas -- one of the beneficiaries of the fund is located in Richardson, near Collin County.
In short, this amendment passed in urban areas (read: areas that vote Democrat) and communities with universities likely to benefit financially from the fund. It lost big in rural areas that usually vote Republican as well as some medium-sized Texas cities.