Smither Not a Major Factor in TX-22

Looks like the Libertarians might do well to focus their resources and attention on other races, like the winnable state house contests in Indiana, Vermont, and possibly other states. Places where that time, staff, and money might do some actual good and elect some candidates to office.

The Smither campaign will probably stumble along to 10% of the vote no matter what happens in the next week, but the real race here is between Lampson and Sekula-Gibbs.

See the Zogby poll results here at

In the race for the congressional seat once held by former Rep. Tom DeLay, the same number of likely voters said they would vote for a write-in candidate as for the Democratic nominee, according to a new poll.

Thirty-five percent of respondents said they would vote for a write-in candidate, a statistical tie with the 36 percent support for Democrat Nick Lampson, according to the poll of likely voters in the Houston area’s 22nd Congressional District.

Of the respondents who said they’d choose a write-in candidate, 79 percent said they planned to name Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, a Houston city councilwoman backed by the Republican Party.

Twenty-five percent of surveyed voters said they were still undecided.

“Both candidates seem to be swimming upstream here,” said pollster John Zogby, president of Zogby International, which conducted the poll. “What’s clear on one hand, is Nick Lampson seems to have had the opportunity and has not closed the deal just yet. On the same token, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs has a great opportunity in a Republican district.”

The poll was conducted for the Houston Chronicle and KHOU-TV and appeared on their Web sites Sunday night.

The poll also shows that 62 percent of respondents were aware that there’s a write-in candidate. Sixty-one percent said they know how to cast a write-in vote.

Two lesser-known candidates are running as write-ins along with Sekula-Gibbs.

Four percent of respondents said they would vote for Libertarian Bob Smither, the only person besides Lampson on the general election ballot.

Fifty-two percent of poll respondents identified themselves as Republicans, 32 percent as Democrats and 16 percent as independent.

“Punditry was coloring the district blue. It’s still a Republican district. Even harder than selling a write-in, is selling a Democrat in this district,” Zogby said.

DeLay, the former House majority leader, resigned from Congress in June amid legal and ethical problems. He had already won the GOP nomination for his district. But the courts refused to allow Republicans to replace him on the ballot, forcing them to turn to a write-in candidate.

Sekula-Gibbs said the poll results show that Lampson is a weak candidate.

“I think we are at the top of the hill. We are ready to plant the flag,” she said.

Lampson, who served in the U.S. House from 1997 to 2004, said it’s hard to predict how many people will vote for a write-in candidate.

“I felt this was doable from the beginning and I still feel that way now,” Lampson said. “I knew I had to reach out to a community used to voting one way politically. And I’ve had to ask those people to have confidence in me.”

Zogby International conducted the telephone survey of 504 likely voters between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

29 Responses to “Smither Not a Major Factor in TX-22”

  1. Joseph Knight Says:

    Libertarians should rally behind Rex Bell where those last minute resources can do some real good:

  2. Nigel Watt Says:


  3. undercover_anarchist Says:

    If we had a legit candidate in TX-22, there would be cause for excitement. Smither is your average frustrated white paleocon, the type that hijacked the LP long ago, who was running the average worthless campaign until DeLay got busted. No big surprise.

  4. Timothy West Says:

    the poll suggests that R’s would vote for Lampson before they would vote for Smither. I just cant buy that.

  5. rj Says:

    Voter ignorance is going to ensure that Smither is going to get a decent percentage of the vote. Take a voter that doesn’t pay attention to politics, tends to be Republican, and sees a race with a Democrat and a Libertarian, they’ll probably vote Libertarian. Not sure how much that applies here since the ousted Republican was Tom Delay, but that occurs in every district.

  6. Seth Says:

    This poll listing Smither at 4% is absolutely bogus.
    As the 2 analyses listed at
    show, there is plenty of reason to question this poll, and it just makes no sense for a drop from 20% to 4% with no reason for it.

  7. Matt Sterba Says:

    Here is another scientific poll…... Listen to ths!

  8. George Whitfield Says:

    One particular item in the Zogby poll was particularly suspect: 90% of the “random” sample of registered voters said they were very likely to vote. Unreal. Even if that many said they were very likely to vote many of them won’t. That is why our LP GOTV effort is important to make sure our identified potential voters are reminded of Bob Smither and are encouraged to get out and vote.

  9. Mike N. Says:

  10. Jackcjackson Says:

    A lot of issues.. Like 30%+ of Republicans voting for Lampson?..25% Undecided.. Um, yes 35% would vote for A write-in…79% said specificaly Hyphen-lady= less than 28% best case.. I also find it hard to believe that “would” and intent will equal= “I will definitely be voting for a write-in and I will be writing in hypen’s name.” I dont think a poll, maybe any poll can really predict the actual behavior when faced with a 2 person ballot and a write-in option.

    I also agree with the voter ignorance thing. Are you going to tell me that in a district where Democrats are a minority and NOT well liked, that most of those who are not hip to the whole write-in process are going to pick the Democrat over the Libertarian actually on the ballot? I would think ( could be wrong of course) that just being on the ballot at all would be worth 10% or so.

  11. Jackcjackson Says:

    Also this type of BS certainly has an effect on media coverage. I have emails from writers saying Smither is an impressive and engaging guy, but obviously based on the polling, is not worth mentioning more than the usual “Also on the ballot is….” It’s one of those things where they try to convince people he is not worth supporting, just as this blog suggest.

    Honestly I think the the real support is somewhere in between, not as optomistic as the Smither campaign would like, but nowhere near this bad.

  12. rj Says:

    Is it true that “writing in” Sekula-Gibbs is done electronically through an arcade style letter selection (scrolling)?

  13. Timothy West Says:

    On the same token, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs has a great opportunity in a Republican district.”

    The poll was conducted for the Houston Chronicle and KHOU-TV and appeared on their Web sites Sunday night.

    The poll was bought and paid for to beat down Smither.

    On the same token, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs has a great opportunity in a Republican district.”

    On the face of it: HOW STUPID is this statement? The write in candidate has a great opportunity?

    I’ll never quote or do another Zogby Poll again. ZERO Credibility

  14. Kris Overstreet Says:

    It’s been my experience that Republicans prefer Democrats by 2:1 over Libertarians in races with no Republican, and Democrats prefer Republicans by about the same margin. (This, of course, doesn’t count the large number of Texans who vote straight party at the top of the ballot and don’t bother looking at the rest of it.)

    The reason for this is not that Libertarians are totally unknown; it’s that our reputation is that of radical anarchist lunatics. We only overcome this perception when voters see the candidates, learn that the specific candidates aren’t nutjobs, and learn to trust those candidates.

    Which is why I’m burned up to see hundreds of thousands of dollars funnelled into Badnarik’s unwinnable campaign when that money could go to Libertarians running for county commissioner, treasurer, etc.- easily winnable races that would bring credibility to the Libertarian label and establish a support network of local activists for future larger-scale efforts.

  15. Kris Overstreet Says:

    Oh, and Tim? Zogby’s as close as the Libertarian Party has in the polling game to a friend. The other pollsters routinely ignore us; he routinely includes us, us and most of the other third parties.

    His polls have also been among the most accurate at predicting outcomes since before 2000…

  16. Timothy West Says:


    the poll is undefendable. I’m aware of this, but he just burned his bridge with me. Thats no a poll, it’s a paid advert for hypen lady.

  17. Carol Says:

    Nick Lampson hasn’t really tried to win in District 22. A local radio station had Gibbs on their show and asked Lampson if he would like to join them, and his peeps told them that “he did not need it.” Kind of arrogant if you ask me.

  18. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Well, Zogby hasn’t been a terrible pollster in the past. It’s not like that “Southern Research” thing or whatever which was just advertising for the Republican. As I said in the item above, Smither can get to 10% with his eyes closed at this point… but that’s not going to win it. Neither is 20%... which is where I think he might be able to get to with all this party support. However, on election night would your rather see “Smither tops 20% in TX-22 for a close third place finish” or “Smith finishes third with 12% of the vote in Texas, Libertarian Legislators elected in Vermont and Indiana”? I’d go for the second headline.

    These last minute resources could put viable candidates over the top. A win anywhere is better than a good showing in any race, unless that race is statewide or Presidential. This sideshow Congressional seat isn’t.

    And if Smither beats the Republican the media will dismiss it as “she couldn’t even get past a Libertarian” - but if she beats Smither, then that looks even worse for the LP. A strong showing will be discounted because of the weird circumstances of the race. The only “win” here is an outright win… and that’s just not gonna happen.

  19. NewFederalist Says:

    Is it any real surprise that Fox would run a story that is pro-Republican and unfriendly to Libertarians? While I am certain that Smither won’t come close to winning I just am not buying these low numbers. Nice smack down, Austin! I thought this website was supposed to be supportive of the”other guys”!

  20. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Supportive, sure. And I’m not attacking Smither… I think he’s an above average paper candidate that fell into an awesome opportunity to earn some press and he’s gone for it. Good for them.

    If a state legislative candidate, like Rex Bell in Indiana or one of the ones in New Hampshire or Vermont, loses their race by 2% of the vote… the question “what more could have been done?” will be asked. If the party’s resources and attention is tied up in a hopeless Congressional race, state house seats might be left behind.

    My statements have just been hitting a few points…

    1) Zogby hasn’t been unfriendly to Libertarians in the past, they’ve been quite fair.

    2) Even if this 4% is actually 14%, that’s not within range to win.

    3) National LPHQ seems to be blasting staff and cash at this race, which probably seemed like a good idea a few weeks ago. But if it’s not working, my own feeling is that there are races which can be won with a little extra boost.

    Stephen Gordon and Shane Cory are some of the sharpest folks I’ve ever seen leading the party, so I trust their judgement. I’m not trying to be critical, just sharing my take on the situation.

  21. Aaron Says:

    The LP should continue to focus on the Smither race. I don’t agree with Austin’s comments. Folks are NOT going to write in hyphen-lady’s name UNLESS they have some formal tie to either her or the GOP. Everyone else will be left with TWO choices. I think Smither will do VERY well.

  22. George Whitfield Says:

    Austin, I have supported both Smither and Rex Bell and the LP legislative candidates in Vermont (Hardy Machia and others). Wherever we have a good opportunity we should take advantage of it. Although we should focus on winnable races at the lower level, we shouldn’t ignore the Congressional level completely. We should try different levels at the same time. We will do well.

  23. Lex Says:

    A write-in candidate will not win, or even come close. Libertarians running as the only opponent to a D or an R in Texas usually get 10-20% of the vote. In a heavily Republican district with plenty of publicity, I would see Smither around 25-30%. It would be sweet if he wins, though, even if he’s not the ideal LP candidate. (His support of the 30% national sales tax is troubling, but it’s probably a non-starter anyway.)

  24. Eric Dondero Says:

    Let’s just all keep this bogus poll in mind next Wednesday when the results are in. All those Libertarians who say that Zogby is somehow a friend of Libertarians will have to give the rest of us a mea culpa.

    I’m sticking by my prediction, being someone who actually lives a stone’s throw away from the District 22 line, Smither beats Sekula-Gibbs with high 20s to her low teens. Outside shot that Bob can win outright.

    What’s being lost in all the discussion here is that there’s a prominent libertarian running for Governor of Texas. Perhaps you all heard of him.


    Friedman voters in CD 22 will vote for Bob Smither.

    Keep in mind Jesse Ventura was 10 points behind in the polls the day before he won the Governorship of MN. Bet the same is true for Kinky. Kinky voters are Bob Smither voters.

    Both libertarian candidates, Kinky and Bob, will do much better than the experts predicted.

  25. Jeremy Says:

    There is something I’ve been wondering: what happens to misspelled write-in votes? For example, suppose someone mispells ‘sekula’ as ‘sekulla’, or drops it entirely and just writes in ‘Gibbs’, do these votes count?

  26. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I think they’re reasonable about it if the intent is clear. I could be totally wrong, but I think both of your examples would be deemed valid.

    Under normal circumstances I’m not sure how concerned the SoE would be with keeping accurate records of write-in votes and setting aside questionable ballots, etc… but since there’s a viable write-in I think they pay more attention.

  27. rj Says:

    The best way to answer that is how write-ins have been treated in the past by the government and judicial system of Texas as far as precedent. Have they been friendly to them in the past.

  28. Mike N. Says:

    Smither’s fundraising results:

  29. my first car Says:

    my first car

    my first car

Leave a Reply