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September 23, 2014

The Real Story of Texas GOP Primaries: Democratic Turnout

san anton010 082913 445x298 The Real Story of Texas GOP Primaries: Democratic Turnout

Rep. Joaquin Castro signs the cover of an issue of Texas Monthly which shows him, his brother San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Davis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Parsing the Republican results from this year’s first-in-the-nation Texas primaries will surely dominate Wednesday’s political talk. The media will ask how nettlesome Rep. Steve Stockman’s challenge to Sen. John Cornyn proved to be and which of the 23 House members seeking re-election got the biggest scare? How easy was it for state Attorney General Greg Abbott to secure the gubernatorial nomination?

The answers are important because they are 2014’s initial number-based assessment about the current state of the fight between the solidly conservative Republicans and the extraordinarily conservative Republicans — a battle that’s still clearly shaping the party’s national fortunes in the short term.

But in terms of predicting the GOP’s long-term prospects, the more important data may be generated by the Democrats. How many turn out for their generally low-impact contests Tuesday will offer a big clue about the speed at which Texas will be shifting from solid red to bright purple.

Big political change in the state is coming as inevitably as so many of the winter storms that have hobbled the capital this year — but the precise timing of its arrival is similarly difficult to forecast.

The demographic evolution prompting the ideological realignment is easier to predict. In 2012, 38 percent of Texans were Hispanic, according to the Census Bureau’s most recent formal estimate. Their numbers are growing so much more rapidly than other groups that by the 2020 elections, they are certain to surpass whites (declining steadily to 44 percent of the population two years ago) to make Texas the second Latino-plurality state after California.

Remembering that Democrats won the national Hispanic vote by a lopsided 44 points in the past presidential election, it’s easy to expect their rise to demographic pre-eminence in Texas will challenge its political status quo. (Though Gallup reported last month that while 51 percent of Hispanics outside Texas identify with the Democratic Party, that’s true of only 46 percent of Hispanics in the state.)

What’s now the most reliably Republican of the big states — the last Democratic statewide victory was 20 years ago — is not going to move into a reliable column for the Democrats for the foreseeable future.

Instead, sometime during the coming decade, Texas will become a place where either party can win. That is, unless the GOP re-engineers its standing in the state by fundamentally changing its platform, starting with a much more embracing posture on immigration. At the presidential level, Texas becoming even somewhat competitive again would be a strategic boon for Democrats because it would require the GOP to commit money and people to defend the state for the first time in four decades. (The second-biggest prize in the Electoral College, its 38 electoral votes equal to the combined haul from five of the tossup states President Barack Obama ended up carrying in 2012: Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire.)

As to when the swing-state label will become accurately applied, this week’s Democratic results will help formulate the answer. If the turnout exceeds recently paltry norms, especially among Latinos, that may fairly be seen as a sign that the realignment is beginning on time, maybe even a little ahead of schedule.

That, at least, is the assertion of Battleground Texas, a political action committee created a year ago by veterans of the Obama campaigns with the goal of making the state competitive for Democrats again — starting with a registration and turnout effort this year that’s modeled on the neighborhood mobilization efforts that worked for their former boss. To that end, the PAC says it raised $3 million and enlisted 12,000 volunteers to make calls or knock on the doors of more than 370,000 potential supporters, mainly in Latino precincts.

Two factors are working against initial success: recent history and (paradoxically) Wendy Davis.

Excitement about the Fort Worth state senator — a national Democratic celebrity thanks to a success-despite-adversity backstory and an 11-hour filibuster that temporarily blocked new state restrictions on abortion — was initially seen as a boon to the effort. But once it became clear she would cruise to the gubernatorial nomination, the rationale for getting people out to case votes for her in March faded.

Beyond that, Texans (particularly Democrats and most especially Hispanics) are developing a standout record for spurning their franchise.

Just 50 percent of those eligible showed up for the 2012 general election, a 9-point drop since 2008 and the fourth-lowest turnout in the country. Turnout in the spring is a fraction of that. An average 8 percent of Republicans have voted in the past decade’s primaries, while turnout for Democratic contests has topped out at 6 percent with one exception. (That was 2008, when 16 percent voted in the contest between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.) And the Democrats who do show up are disproportionately liberal Anglos and African-Americans — one reason why freshman Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth, who is black, was elected in a district that’s two-thirds Latino.)

The probable takeaway, once all of Tuesday’s results are sorted, is that both sides agree the first real gauge for the realignment’s timing won’t come until Nov. 4.

The GOP will declare that the roster of fall winners, which is likely to end up lopsidedly Republican, will offer the best evidence. Near term, they’ll be right. The Democrats will say that any inroads, starting with boosted turnout, would be the bigger story. In the big picture, they’ll be just as correct.

  • AwakenNow

    So, Abortion Barbie (Wendy Davis) celebrates tonight but Texas will celebrate after the Nov. 2014 general election when she is NOT elected Govenor and she is OUT of the Texas Senate. Texans believe in Freedom, Liberty, Opportunity, Personal Responsibility, goverment out of our lives, the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    • Raylusk

      Bull that’s what you believe in. What you really believe in is government enforcing your vision of a society. No gay marriage, no protection of the citizens from damage done to the environment, and no protection for workers safety. You people are hypocrites that use government to enforce your vision of individual rights on society.

      • Micky Baker

        No, that isn’t what conservatives want. That is in fact what Liberals are doing. Conservatives today don’t support what you think they do, and that is probably why you don’t like them. Despite the fact they tell you this every single day of every single year, you still listen to people who don’t know what modern American conservatism really is.

        • Raylusk

          Sure it’s what conservatives want. That’s why in state legislator after state legislator that is controlled by conservatives they have passed anti-gay laws that prevent same sex marriage or are considering laws like the one just vetoed in Arizona that allows business owners to discriminate against gays and call them religious liberty laws. You have allowed your ideology to blind you but that’s typical of conservatives.

          • Micky Baker

            Defending marriage as between one man and one woman isn’t “anti-gay”.

          • teapartyidiots

            It is a violation of the 14th amendment.

    • Dirk Diggler

      Yes, we all believe in Freedome, Liberty, Opportunity, Personal Responsibility. your side just believes those things are for the top 1 percent. If you are for no government, why does the government keep interfering in with womens’ reproductive rights, or in gay marriage?

      • NASCARDaddy

        Why does the government interfere in marriage at all? Why should anyone, straight or gay, require government permission to get married?

  • devlooshen

    Well, if Chris Dorner, Lakim Faust, Ed Schultz, Troy Gilmore Jr., John Muhammed, Hussein Obama, Lee Boyd Malvo, Demetrius Glenn, Allan Brauer, John Van Allen, and Aaron Alexis are any indication, it’s pretty obvious that today’s liberals are becoming increasingly unhinged, violent, and aggressive.

    • Jesse4

      If you think those names somehow represent liberalism, then today’s conservatives are becoming increasingly unhinged, violently stupid, and ignorant.

      • NASCARDaddy

        Well Ed Schultz is held out by msnbc as the poster child for liberalism and Barack Obama is the president of the United States. Just watch msnbc to see how unhinged progrssives have become. I mean last week Rachel Maddow trotted out the “Iraq War was over oil” chestnut to avoid reporting on Pres. Obama’s foreign policy failures.

        • Micky Baker

          And to avoid having to admit that spending didn’t go down when the Iraq War ended.

      • Micky Baker

        Ed Schultz is indeed the face of today’s Liberalism, and he is violently stupid and unhinged.

  • profnickd

    If TX has the chance of becoming “blue” because of Hispanic population growth, then why did Dukakis do better in the state in ’88 than Obama did in ’12?

    • teapartyidiots

      Dukakis is white.

      • profnickd

        No. The fact that 0bama is black helped him — more people voted for him because he is black than voted against him because of that.

        Imagine if a *white* junior Senator with 3 years experience and with no record and no accomplishments tried to run for president. He would be laughed at. Which why conservatives laugh at 0bama.

    • ekaneti

      You bring up a good point. Despite the “improved” demographics, TX is more conservative and more GOP than it was 20 years ago. The GOP does better with Hispanics than the Rats do with whites.

  • Raylusk

    He was being presumptions by speaking for all Texans and what they believe in. Since I have family that lives there I follow politics in Texas and I know what the conservative legislator and governor has done. Since the Texan legislator and governor have (past and present) passed legislation about the issues I cited and since Dirk says all Texans believe the same and he is a Texan then I can infer that he also believes. He made a ridiculous statement but the laws of Texas clearly say the opposite. You see everything doesn’t have to be stated. You can look at real actions and draw conclusions. Now how about you quit defending the idiot.

    • mabramso

      I lived in Houston for 3 years. So, OK, so he should have said “A majority of Texans”, and he would have been much closer to the truth. Sure, people have differences, and there plenty of people on both sides, and he made an over-generalization. But until the Democrats actually start winning statewide, he’s probably closer to the truth than you would care to admit.

      • Raylusk

        No he isn’t. My experience is that people who claim to believe the things he says he believes don’t really. They believe exactly what I said they really believe and that is to force their views on others. The laws of Texas that forbid things like gay marriage, restrict peopkes right to form unions, and many other things that restrict individual freedoms that are prevelant in Texas and other conservative states prove they don’t believe as they say. You really need to read my statements more carefully.

        • Micky Baker

          No, that’s not what is happening. We aren’t going around to all these states trying to force them to be like Texas. We just want them to admit they screwed themselves up and we had nothing to do with it.

          • Raylusk

            If you are going to comment please stay on subject. We were talking about what conservatives want.

  • Fido Shery

    Liberals don’t deal in reality, they deal in fantasy.

  • teapartyidiots

    Well, referring to a state senator, Harvard educated lawyer, and gubernatorial candidate as “abortion Barbie” is the first clue.

    • mabramso

      I have known plenty of people who are politically moderate on many issues but have real problems with abortion. So, while it is certainly possible, I don’t buy the blanket accusations.

      • teapartyidiots

        I just meant that referring to her as abortion Barbie is very disrespectful, no matter your position on the issue itself. Sorry if I was unclear.

        • mabramso

          I suppose so, but not any more so than your own ID. :-)

          • teapartyidiots

            Yeah, I did that a long time ago- not that I disagree, but I would like to turn down the rhetoric…I’m also only a social liberal, which is more what it’s speaking to – I want two parties I can vote for again!

          • mabramso

            Funny you should say that. I consider myself a (Reagan) conservative independent who pretty much wants the same thing. I remember when there actually such things as conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans (and people were more civil which each other), but alas, that is no more, except for a very few places. And it will likely be less so after the next election.

          • teapartyidiots

            Agreed – you can still find them in the northeast (I grew up there and I know many pro-choice/pro marriage quality Republicans, and many pro-education and tax reform Democrats).

          • Micky Baker

            Find them in the Northeast? You have to look very hard.

          • teapartyidiots

            Most northeasterners are moderates. I know I support education and tax reform….I just also support contraception and equality.

          • Micky Baker

            Contraception? You support abortion as a method of contraception? That’s what 90 plus percent of them are used for. You want equality, but not justice. There is a difference between the two.

            What part of this makes you believe that there is any institutionalized inequality? There isn’t. It’s all fabricated.

          • teapartyidiots

            Wow – ok. I didn’t even mention abortion – I support abortion rights because what someone else does with their body is none of my business, but I knew someone as fire breathing as you would freak if I said that. Stop supporting wars and the death penalty and then maybe, maybe we can discuss justice, for whatever that means to you.

          • Micky Baker

            That’s hilarious. Stop supporting wars while Obama funds the Syrian Civil War by aiding enemies of the USA in that war.

            You support abortion because it’s “none of your business”? Until they use tax payer dollars to pay for it, that’s when it becomes YOUR BUSINESS unless of course you’re one of those that don’t pay any federal income taxes, which is probably the case.

            Wendy Davis, for example, supports abortion and considers it “contraception”. There should NOT be any mandates for contraception on all plans, including for those that have no need for it. It’s not someone else’s responsibility to pay for the consequences of your behavior.

          • teapartyidiots

            She does not, and she supports a twenty week ban. Info Wars is not always right.

          • cas47

            Well, then you might consider changing your id.

          • teapartyidiots

            I know it’s crass, but I still think Tea Partiers are scary and reactionary.

          • Micky Baker

            You see, you’re the reason that the Tea Partiers have to speak out loudly. You’re not listening. You don’t even want to know what they’re doing. You let the media tell you what it is. You haven’t been to any of their meetings to know what they’re ideas are. You haven’t listened. This is how I know that you’re faking it. You’re not even really a Republican are you?

            Who was reactionary when they tried to pass all these Gun Control Bills? That’s NOT PROACTIVE. That’s Reactionary! That’s IRRATIONAL. I know you’re not genuine.

          • teapartyidiots

            I’m an independent for starters. I never said I was a Republican. I’m probably closest to libertarian. I didn’t support the gun laws except universal background checks as 80% of American’s over all. However, being a vehement pro-equality advocate, and a woman, I generally cannot vote GOP these days. I used to in the past, and may for governor this year.

          • Micky Baker

            You’re using the username “teapartyidiots” and then claim you’re trying to “tone down the rhetoric”? Really? STFU!

        • Micky Baker

          Abortion Barbie? She made herself that.

  • daniel155

    About 1.3 million voted in the Republican primary and about 550,000 voted in the Democratic primary. Abbott got ninety-two percent of the vote and Davis only got seventy-eight percent. A lot of out of state contributors are really going to blow a huge wad of cash on her campaign.

  • devlooshen

    At this link we find another Bolshevik democrat openly waging war against Christianity and Western civilization: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2013/11/25/liberal-professor-tells-white-male-students-commit-suicide-benefit-so

  • smedley

    Gosh, such prescient political knowledge. Davis does poorly in the primary because she is so popular. I guess that means that when she gets stomped by Abbott it is because she was so gosh darn popular many Democrats didn’t vote for her thinking she would win easily. This guy is a complete moron.

    • Micky Baker

      Yeah, I’m sure that’s why that was because it was just a Gubernatorial primary huh? It’s state wide elections and all US House Seats moron! That is what the primary was for!

  • NASCARDaddy

    19 counties in Texas had not a single vote cast in the Democratic primaries. Yet Texas is gonna turn purple any day now.

  • NASCARDaddy

    Less than thirty thousand more people voted in this year’s Democratis primary than voted for the winner of the primary four years ago. This after Battleground Texas spent ungodly amounts of money on registering new voters and get out the vote efforts. The problem is not that Wendy Davis is too popular to get voters out but that not even Democrats like their choices right now.

    • Micky Baker

      Wendy Davis is also not that popular in her Senatorial District any more after she tried to sue the state in Ft. Worth.

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