Looking at the results of the last three election cycles, it seems impossible. The Democratic Party in the state is a mere ghost organization. Much-heralded demographic changes have not resulted in even a slight increase in Democratic votes. Texas may be a majority-minority state, but unlike, say, in California, Hispanics in Texas do not seem to have a culture of civic participation. They simply do not vote.
Then again, who would have predicted a decade ago that Dallas — once the most Republican major city in America — would become a Democratic bastion? Houston, San Antonio, and of course, Austin are also firmly in the Democratic camp.
This morning Politico reports that Jeremy Bird, one of the architects of Barack Obama’s formidable campaign apparatus, has formed “Battleground Texas,” a group that will raise “tens of millions of dollars” to put the Obama fieldbook to work in organizing block-by-block turnout of neglected and hitherto-uninterested Democratic voters.
It would be foolish for Republicans to underestimate (as they did in the Obama-Romney contest) the power of Obama’s data-based, volunteer-driven organization. Ted Cruz, for one, doesn’t underestimate it at all. As he told The New Yorker in November:
If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’
(Cross-posted, with minor edits, on www.dmagazine.com)