Ah, Peter Brown. You spent more than $3 million of your wife's cash, you put up dazzling ads that showed you jazzercising your way to Houston's future, you led the polls most of the way, as long as "Undecided" wasn't included.
Yet you lost. Badly. Instead of making the runoff, you had to struggle to beat no-name Roy Morales, a Republican running in a Democratic city.
How did this happen?
1. People don't want to appear stupid when polled. Let's say you're a Houstonian watching Wheel of Fortune and the phone rings. It's some pollster wanting your input on the Houston mayor's race. Your entire knowledge of, and interest in, the Houston mayor's race comes from Peter Brown ads, which seem designed to interrupt your Wheel viewing. Instead of pleading ignorance, you toss out the name of the only candidate you've heard of. That doesn't mean you're going to get up off your Wheel-watching butt and go to the polls, though.
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2. With no natural constituency, Brown needed to fire up casual voters. Instead they remained casual. While Houston has had no trouble electing rich, white, boring guys to the mayor's job, it's not like River Oaks can dictate who wins anymore. Annise Parker had her Montrose constituency -- of which we expect we will begin to hear a lot more about, in terms of "traditionally socially conservative" blacks having some "concerns" -- and Gene Locke had whatever black support Brown hadn't rented. Brown had no real base to speak of, so he needed to get votes from the kind of people who don't rabidly follow Houston mayoral politics. Those people remained rabidly uninterested.
3. You're old, Peter Brown!! Old!! It's hard to drum up excitement and energy when you give off the impression of someone who wonders why they took Murder, She Wrote off the air. Brown may be as full of vigor as his ads seem to insist, but from a podium he was a snooze. The Dukakis-Kerry School of Charisma continues to have trouble finding success.
4. Teabaggers went to the polls to stop the rise of Stalinistic Fascist-Socialism. Instead of voting for Brown, conservatives riled up over Obama decided to send a message by voting for the only guy who identified himself as a Republican. It was an utterly wasted vote, as it proved nothing but the fact that the GOP vote in the city has a pretty low ceiling, but we can only ope the White House got the message.
5. Everyone saw the polls and decided Brown was a shoo-in, so they stayed home. Or they didn't see the polls, because no one gave a damn about the mayor's race this year, so they stayed home. One of those two.