Beto? Bet Not
A new poll from Quinnipiac Polling Group indicates that incumbent Governor Greg Abbott is well on his way to victory in the 2022 midterm elections. The survey of 1,224 registered voters found Abbott has opened a 53 percent to 37 percent lead, a whopping 15 point margin in the early going.
Beto’s poor early numbers suggest the “purple Texas” narrative is under threat of collapse. The Biden border catastrophe, Beto’s insufferable Austin tech-bro liberalism, and collapsing support among Hispanic voters threaten humiliation for Texas Democrats.
The Democratic weakness in Texas may come as a surprise to Republicans who watched with horror as Beto threatened to lead a successful progressive insurgency to the Senate in 2018. Beto’s campaign was a grassroots masterclass, turning out every possible Democrat vote in the state.
Senator Ted Cruz would survive Beto’s challenge with a 2.6 percent margin of victory, but the Democratic success emboldened national Democrats and brought “purple Texas” rhetoric to a fever pitch. By 2020, DNC confidence led Vice-President Biden to spend some of the crucial final days of his campaign rallying support across North and West Texas.
Then, it all fell apart. Republicans overperformed optimistic polling across the state by sweeping every statewide election, retaining the legislature, and carving out significant gains with South Texas’ traditionally Democratic Hispanic electorate.
President Trump won Texas’s 38 electoral votes by a margin of 5.58 percent, underperforming other prominent Texas Republicans like Senator John Cornyn, who turned in higher margins. While the turnout improved over recent presidential elections for Democrats, it was still a bitter pill after the Beto-induced media hype and record-setting cash investments from the DNC.
Now, with the election well in the rear-view mirror, it’s worth asking: What gave?
For starters, the Democratic standard-bearer Beto O’ Rourke lost his political mind. After running a largely centrist race for Texas Senate, he entered the 2020 Democratic presidential primary and marched quickly to the left.
Beto threatened churches’ tax-exempt status if they didn’t endorse same-sex marriage and told voters, “hell yeah, I’m going to take your AR-15”. He followed up by supporting a climate plan designed to destroy the oil and gas industry and called for an open borders immigration approach.
Texan voters were rattled by his flip-flops and the extent of his previously hidden radicalism. His approval ratings in Texas cratered just before his presidential campaign did the same.
When the smoke cleared from his campaign’s crash and burn, Texas Republicans emerged with evidence that centrist appeals from Democrats were lies and that the liberal insurgency was shrouding a deeply unpopular national agenda out of step with the concerns of Texans.
Beto’s gift to conservatives compounded the threat of lockdowns, the rise of anti-police street violence, and the national Democratic embrace of lawlessness at the border. By 2020’s election day, the DNC’s 2018 momentum was squandered.
Ahead of 2022, it’s unlikely Democrats will be able to regroup in Texas. Recent polling from the Wall Street Journal indicates that realignment trends with Hispanic voters are only intensifying, and national developments show that Democratic inroads with suburban voters were a temporary reaction to President Trump.
If the trends hold, Republicans will have regained the suburban constituencies they relied on to go undefeated in statewide elections for two decades and broken the Democrats’ century-long stronghold with South Texas Hispanics.
These electoral trends represent a dual disaster for the DNC, one that could solidify Texas as a multi-ethnic Republican fortress and serve as an example for states like Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Georgia.
Democrats, fearful of this fast-approaching reality, are backing Beto trying to recapture 2018 magic. Unfortunately for the DNC, the margin of Beto’s defeat will only serve as a benchmark by which Republicans can measure their renewed success.