Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Is Texas Poised to Begin the Shift to Purple?

The always foul Sen. Ted Cruz (R) faces a strong challenge from Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D).

years Virginia was a reliable Republican leaning state.  The two things happened: the Christofascists and white supremacists hijacked the Virginia GOP and the party base basically became something akin to a rabid dog.  The second thing that happened was that the voters in the growing urban areas finally decided that they were over the insanity of the GOP and its efforts to drag Virginia backwards in time.  The 2017 Virginia elections underscored the results of these two factors when Republicans lost the gubernatorial election by 9 points and 15 Republicans lost their seats in the House of Delegates.  Now, some believe - or at least hope - that Texas may be on the verge of a similar shift towards Democrats and modernity in general fueled by the growth of that state's urban areas and growing minority population.  The turn out in the Texas primaries today suggest a surge in Democrat voters - more, in fact than the Republican turnout. Here are highlights from a piece in the Washington Post:  
Texas polls have closed and the vote counting has begun in the first statewide primary of the 2018 election season, a major test of the elevated enthusiasm of Democratic voters in a Republican-dominated state.
According to figures published over the weekend by the Texas secretary of state’s office, of the 885,574 ballots already cast in the state’s 15 largest counties, more than 52 percent were for Democrats — a major jump from the last midterm primary.
In 2014, only 592,153 early ballots were cast in those counties, with Republican voters accounting for nearly 62 percent of the votes.
Tuesday’s voting stands to give a fuller picture of whether Democratic turnout in the state is truly outsized or whether Republicans simply waited till Election Day to cast ballots. Texas has routinely elected GOP officials in statewide races for a generation, though recently with declining margins. President Trump won the state by nine points four years after GOP nominee Mitt Romney beat President Barack Obama by 16 points.
Democratic turnout has been surging for months in elections around the country. Democrat Ralph Northam handily won the Virginia governor’s race in November, even though the Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie, received more votes than any GOP candidate in the state’s history.
Democrats have also been winning special state legislative elections around the country, including seats in states like Florida, Wisconsin and Kentucky that were once considered safe for Republicans. “WAKE UP CALL,” tweeted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) in January, after a Democrat handily won a state legislative race in his state that Republicans won by 27 points in 2016.
The trend was set to continue Tuesday.
“There’s something different going on in Texas this cycle,” said David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “It’s a uniquely anti-Trump state, because it has a rare combination of diversity and a suburban professional class. And, in that sense, it’s becoming a little bit more like California every year.”
Top Republicans are taking notice of the trend, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R) telling state reporters even before polls closed that the new enthusiasm among Democrats, including his opponent Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), had limited potential. “Congressman O’Rourke’s campaign is benefiting from left-wing rage,” Cruz said. “Left-wing rage may raise a bunch of money from people online, but I don’t believe it reflects the views of a majority of Texans.”
Others were more cautious about the coming danger.
“I think it would be malpractice if we didn’t pay attention and respond accordingly,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said Monday of the early voting results, suggesting that “we need to encourage the president” to email his supporters “and encourage them to vote in November.”
What Tuesday’s voting is unlikely to do is pick nominees in the most closely watched House races, many of which feature jam-packed fields where even the best-financed and best-known candidates will struggle to win an outright majority and avoid a May 22 runoff.
Rep. JoaquĆ­n Castro (D-Tex.) predicted Tuesday that the elections will reflect a rising wave of discontent in his home state not just with Trump, but also with state Republican leaders who have governed from the hard right.
Few things would give me more joy than to see Ted Cruz defeated in November.  I hope Democrats continue to push and organize their ground game.  I remain convinced that the Northam/Democrat ground game in Virginia provides a wonderful template for implementation nationwide.

No comments: