Why infighting among Texas Republicans is a 'grim omen' for the GOP: report
During the 2020 presidential election, Democrats were hoping that Texas was in play for Joe Biden. But then-President Donald Trump won the Lone Star State by 6%, which for Democrats, was an improvement over the major double-digit losses they typically suffered in presidential elections in Texas during the 1990s and 2000s. Republicans, journalist Elaina Plott explains in an article published by New York Times Magazine on May 4, should be celebrating the fact that Texas is still a red state; instead, Plott describes the Texas GOP as being in a state of disarray and plagued by infighting.
Plott says of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, "Six years into his governorship, controversy had finally caught up with Abbott. Several of them, actually. First, there was the pandemic, in which his attempts to placate all sides, by turns imposing and denouncing various restrictions, led him to enrage just about everyone. The results of the election should have offered some respite, but four months later, many Texas Republicans remained unmoved by the fact of their own triumphs. Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud had become elemental in the Republican consciousness, and politicians' viability hinged on their willingness to echo them."
On top of those things, Plott adds, Texas was "devastated by a winter storm" earlier this year, with "its power grid and water systems failing."
"In the weeks after the disaster, which left nearly 200 people dead, Texas officials scrambled to adjudicate blame," Plott notes. "Ultimately, the governor's appointees to the commission that oversees the relevant infrastructure resigned."
In 2020, Republican Sen. John Cornyn was reelected by 10% in Texas — another disappointment for Democrats. Although Texas is arguably light red rather than deep red at this point, Democrats are still struggling when it comes to statewide races in the Lone Star State. Democrats often perform well in some congressional districts in Texas and are the majority party in large urban centers like Houston, Dallas, El Paso and Austin, but statewide races continue to be an uphill climb for them.
Plott, however, reports that infighting is hurting the Texas GOP.
"As an unassailable citadel of Republican electoral power for a generation, and one whose demography and geography reflect the United States in miniature, Texas is often a leading indicator of political trends in the party," Plott observes. "So, it is a grim omen for Republican leaders that in this state, where the GOP achieved what might be described as the best-case scenario for the party's hopes in other states in the 2022 midterm elections, the state's prominent Republicans are struggling against one another as if they had just gone down in a rout."
According to Plott, Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud have been a distraction from the GOP's "down-ballot successes" in 2020 — and that includes Texas.
"Donald Trump's refusal to acknowledge his loss in the 2020 election, meanwhile, has placed his party in the awkward position of denying its own down-ballot successes in many states," Plott notes. "This has been particularly striking in Texas."
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