Paint it Blue! Democrats Launch Plan to Take Back Texas
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Democrats, bolstered by President Obama’s victory last fall, have now set their sights on a prize even more valuable than the White House: the state of Texas.
The party is launching a full-scale offensive in the Lone Star with the aim of slowly turning the GOP stronghold into a battleground state. According to Politico, a coalition of groups is creating a grassroots movement to transform the state’s electoral landscape.
The battle will be uphill given the state’s recent voting record. Currently, the GOP holds every statewide office and Mitt Romney beat Obama in the 2012 election by a staggering 16 points.
The demographics of the state, on the other hand, suggest a very real possibility that Texas can turn purple. According to the 2010 census, non-Hispanic whites are already the minority in the state, comprising only 45 percent of the population. In contrast, the growing Latino community—38 percent of the population identified as Hispanic in the 2010 census—offers real promise for the Democrats, particularly in an era when the GOP is increasingly spouting racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric. The Republican Party’s anti-immigration stance is a weak point that Democrats hope can be exploited to influence Latino voters in Texas, a vision that has already proven somewhat successful. In 2008, for example, a mere 35 percent of Latinos in Texas voted for presidential candidate John McCain—down from nearly 50 percent support for the GOP in the 2004 election.
Democrats, however, are not merely relying on demographic shifts to turn the state’s party politics. A handful of groups are focusing on building statewide infrastructure to bolster fundraising, voting registration efforts and future campaigns.
Republican strategists have thus far dismissed many of these plans by deploying some of the condescension and implicit racism that Democrats hope will, in fact, prove the Blue party victorious.
“There’s a reason voters are low-propensity voters. They don’t vote,” Republican strategist Dave Carney told Politico. “It’s their message that hurts [Democrats]. It’s their inability to articulate a message that the vast majority of Texas voters agree with.”
Yet, even a quick look at the history of Texas shows that the Democrats' plans are far from pipedreams. The GOP slant of the state is actually a relatively recent phenomenon that began in the late 1970s when Republican Bill Clements won the gubernatorial election in 1978. Before that, the Democrats had largely dominated Texan politics since the era of Reconstruction in the 1880s.
This type of century-long blue streak in the state’s future is the Holy Grail for the Democratic Party, especially as Texas’s growing population continuously increases its national influence. By 2020, the state is on track to have a staggering 42 electoral votes.
As former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk proclaimed at a Democratic event recently, “When Texas turns blue, this country’s going to turn blue and it’s going to stay blue.”