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Can Democrats Win Texas? Is the GOP Toast?

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,” [1] 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 [2]:

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)

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#1 Comment By Matt On January 24, 2013 @ 8:35 am

The Republicans should take a page from the Democrats’ book here. One of the reasons they lose among Hispanics and other immigrant groups is because they have almost no visibility to these people. If they were to aggressively make themselves known, it probably wouldn’t net them a majority but it could close the gap somewhat.

#2 Comment By Brooklyn Blue Dog On January 24, 2013 @ 8:59 am

We can only hope that Ted Cruz’s nightmare comes true. Then, perhaps, we could see the emergence once again of a real conservative party, as opposed to the “real conservative” party we have now.

Even if you’re a Democrat, if you’re honest, you understand that the country desperately needs a viable alternative to the Democratic Party. Periodic transfers of power and the corrective dynamic of alternating between center-right and center-left administrations is the only thing that can keep corruption to manageable levels. Republican government requires that there be a viable alternative in the wings when the people want to “throw the bums out.”

#3 Comment By JG On January 24, 2013 @ 9:08 am

In other words, we’re just a few years from permanent one party rule.

#4 Comment By Noah172 On January 24, 2013 @ 10:37 am

You reap what you sow, so says the Good Book. The 1986 Reagan amnesty and the open-borders policies of Bush 43 have come home to roost. I hope the boobs of the Religious Right are proud of themselves for electing God’s anointed candidates.

The Republicans could counter these Democratic schemes in Texas by changing their plutocratic economic policies and aggressive foreign policies in order to be more competitive in the still largley white Rust Belt. PA, OH, MI, WI, MN, and IA have a total of 80 electoral votes, more than TX and FL combined. Nationalism (as opposed to globalism) in economics and foreign affairs might help the party’s fortunes also in some other still largely white states that are currently out of reach, such as NH, ME, OR, and WA, while shoring up vulnerable spots such as NC.

It’s worth a try anyway. By now the GOP should realize that free trade, upper bracket tax cuts, amnesty-lite, and neocon jihads are not selling, at least not with the large pools of persuadable blue-collar white voters that the party needs and could win over (instead of chasing the mirage of “natural Republican” underclass non-whites).

#5 Comment By Ampersand On January 24, 2013 @ 11:57 am

It’s going to take a while for Texas to go blue. ’24 or ’28. But if there’s an attempt at an immigration-related third party, I imagine it’d start in Texas–anti-immigration conservative outsiders versus big business pro-amnesty conservatives running the state party–and that could affect things. Some libertarian candidate could draw off from the Republican vote in future Presidential elections.

The other factor is what Republican-supported amnesty could do to the conservative white vote. If that kills enthusiasm (just as Obama’s support will increase Hispanic turnout), the process could be sped up.

#6 Comment By Scott in PA On January 24, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

I hope the boobs of the Religious Right are proud of themselves for electing God’s anointed candidates.

And who, pray tell, are those secular-oriented Republicans who support sane restrictions on immigration?

Of all the GOP candidates for president last year, the most restrictionist was Michelle Bachmann, probably one you would contemptuously describe as “God’s anointed” .

As for the article’s point. Yes, we’re doomed. Unless whites in the northeast and Great Lakes start voting conservative in the same percentages that whites in Texas do (75%). But even that assumes that, once in power, the “conservatives” will alter franchise requirements. That’s not going to happen and the spiraling downward will continue apace.

#7 Comment By Patrick On January 24, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

Sadly, I think Noah172 is right. I say sadly because I really don’t think more balkanization-by-race will lead to good government.

This is a curious strategy considering Obama lost Texas by 16 points and Arizona by 9-something. Moreover, Clinton won AZ in ’96, whereas no Democrat has won TX since Carter – yes, Jimmy Carter – in ’76. So the Obama team will have to close a bigger gap with many more voters needed to close that gap. You’d think they’d concentrate on registering Latinos firstly in the states they narrowly won (so as not to fumble away an already successful electoral coalition) and secondly try to pry off AZ where fewer resources are needed to bridge the gap, and in a state that isn’t quite as totally hostile to the Democrats as TX.

#8 Comment By EngineerScotty On January 24, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

In other news, there’s much hyperventilating on the left about proposals in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Florida–which tend to vote blue, all voted for Obama (twice), but have GOP-dominated (and well-gerrymandered) legislatures–to allocate electoral votes based on House districts. Many of these states also have well-gerrymandered House delegations, with Democrats loaded up into a small handful of D+20 urban vote sinks, and the majority of House districts sitting at R+5 or so.

Despite being Obama states–in particular PA and WI, which are solidly blue, and only go to the GOP in landslide elections–were the proposed scheme in place in 2012, we would have witnessed the inauguration of Mitt Romney this past Sunday.

It will be interesting to see what transpires in 2014 and 2016. No predictions from me, though.

#9 Comment By Patrick On January 24, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

@ EngineerScotty:

“In other news, there’s much hyperventilating on the left about proposals in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Florida–which tend to vote blue, all voted for Obama (twice), but have GOP-dominated (and well-gerrymandered) legislatures–to allocate electoral votes based on House districts.”

It’s funny how short-sighted the state GOP legislators are. Did they want John Kerry pulling electors from Cleveland and Columbus? Did they want Albert Gore Jr. pulling electors from Miami? This crap would’ve cost George Bush the Presidency twice.

#10 Comment By Flhj On January 24, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

What does it matter if there is a one party state or a two party state ? If Republicans become like Democrats to survive then who cares who is in power. Also the idea of having two parties reducing corruption does not seem evident when the opposition in both Japan and Mexico ruled for a few years.

Forget about winning again, its not going to happen, learn how to live without requiring government for everything. Despite all the bad things happening in South Africa, the whites there are still doing well, without a government that means anything to them it probably has made them more independent and enterprising than before.

#11 Comment By Josh On January 24, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

I just want to note that the Democratic Party most certainly needs a true opposition party. Parties and people with too much power and not enough genuine opposition get sloppy and make mistakes, which is clearly not in the best interests of the country in general.

So, in short, I agree with Brooklyn Blue Dog.

#12 Comment By Garry On January 24, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

The “minorities don’t vote in Texas” pap is a myth. Minorities do vote, but they are mostly rural voters and vote Republican. The minorities that vote in the urban areas are subjected to constant propaganda and voter fraud, so the Democrats have a foothold, but that is in line with every other metropolitan area in the US. Texas isn’t immune to that. Luckily, the minorities in the rural areas are small business owners and hard working people that know where money comes from, and it’s not from the government. Hard to overcome Texas large rural areas with the propaganda it will take to turn it bright blue. We already know, via Ma Richards, that it would doom us to a State Income tax…

#13 Comment By Noah172 On January 24, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

And who, pray tell, are those secular-oriented Republicans who support sane restrictions on immigration?

The RR — leadership as well as much of the rank-and-file — for the most part spurned Pat Buchanan during his heyday in the 90s. Ron Paul, while not perfect on the immigration issue (I personally was quite disappointed with his opposition to a border fence/wall), is also a restrictionist (e.g., leader in Congress on ending birthright citizenship) ignored or (more often) angrily condemned by the RR. Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign because 1) at the time, Giuliani looked like the lead Republican candidate; and 2) kowtowing to Israel and bombing Muslims were more important to Robertson than a sane immigration policy or even the RR’s stated priorities of abortion, marriage, and similar social issues.

Bachmann and Santorum both had good records on immigration in Congress — bully for them! — but this issue took a back seat to their fanatical and unpopular foreign policies, their counterproductive stridency on social issues (I’m against abortion and homosexual marriage myself, but there is a right way and a wrong way to handle these matters in a deeply-divided country), and their less-than-meets-the-eye fiscal conservatism.

Bottom line, the Republicans of the last 30 years or so about whom RR leaders and followers have been most enthusiastic — especially Bush 43 and Reagan (in that order IMO), as well as Robertson (1988), Huckabee, Palin, Perry (pre-debate flameouts), Santorum, Gingrich, and now likely Rubio — in addition to the non-RR Republicans whom the RR has reluctantly but very loyally supported after primaries — Bush 41, Dole, McCain, Romney — have been with few exceptions Invade-the-World, Invite-the-World, In-Hock-to-the-World (to use the Sailerite expression) wolves in sheep’s clothing.

And Roe vs. Wade still stands anyway, and gay marriage is on its way.

Heckuva job, values voters.

#14 Comment By Nate On January 24, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

Basically if low information, gimme stuff voters and identy politics only voters get motivated enough to turn out for elections and won’t try individual self-improvement of their lots, this whole experiment that was a successful America is over anyway. Texas would just be a microcosm of the wider problem.

#15 Comment By IanH On January 24, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

“Despite all the bad things happening in South Africa, the whites there are still doing well”

If you call being forced to cover your fences with barbed wire, enduring constant power blackouts, and having you send your blonde daughters to private school “doing well.” I would like to hold the blacks to a higher standard.

#16 Comment By cka2nd On January 28, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

Nate says: “Basically if low information, gimme stuff voters and identy politics only voters get motivated enough to turn out for elections and won’t try individual self-improvement of their lots, this whole experiment that was a successful America is over anyway.”

Yup, just like we never overcame the ethnic political machines of the 19th and 20th centuries. But then, hispanics don’t care about sending their kids to college, don’t care about being paid a fair wage and are in all ways different from the European immigrants of the past while being exactly alike among themselves.

Sigh.

#17 Comment By cka2nd On January 28, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

Garry says: “The minorities that vote in the urban areas are subjected to constant propaganda and voter fraud…”

Ah, the voter fraud myth that j sut won’t die.

#18 Pingback By The Next State to Cause Commotion on the National Scene: Texas | Naive Politico On February 22, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

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