Texas Dreams

[ Posted Tuesday, March 6th, 2018 – 17:57 PST ]

Texas is perpetually, for Democrats, the one that got away. It's the pretty girl that wouldn't go out on a date with you in high school. It's the dream car of your youth you could never afford. It's the perfect job you applied for but didn't get. Democratic dreams of winning Texas are like a fourth-place Olympian's dreams of being on the podium -- so close, and yet so far. It's the impossible dream, but Democrats keep right on dreaming it anyway.

Of course, usually these frenetic dreams only happen once every four years. Democrats would absolutely love to add Texas to their column in a presidential race, because due to its sheer size (in population), it would be the biggest prize imaginable to steal from the other side. With its 38 Electoral College votes, Texas is a big bonanza that is getting bigger all the time. In the last redistricting Texas picked up a whopping four House seats -- far more than any other state. They may add even more in 2020 -- perhaps even at the expense of California (California didn't add any House seats last time around, for the first time since World War II). People are flocking to Texas, which raises the electoral stakes.

Consider that if you added the 38 Texas Electoral College votes to those of the three biggest and most reliably Democratic states (California -- 55, New York -- 29, and Illinois -- 20), you'd wind up with 142 Electoral College votes -- from just four states. That is over half the 270 it takes to win. Which is why Democrats long to add Texas to their column, because it would give them an overwhelming advantage in the presidential contest.

Democrats' dreams do have some basis in reality. Texas has a high percentage of Latinos, and the fact that people are moving there from other parts of the country means the demographics are shifting in the state's electorate. Many Texas voters weren't raised deep in the heart of Texas, and bring different values systems with them when they move in. So more suburban voters from other areas plus energizing the Latino vote should equal a blue Texas, right?

Well, that's the dream in a nutshell. However, Texan Latinos are not the same as all Latinos nationwide, and many families have been in Texas longer than Texas has been Texas. If you're a sixth-generation Latino in Texas, your political views might be just as conservative as your non-Latino neighbor, to put it another way. First-generation immigrants have a different political outlook than families which have been on the same spot for more than 100 years. So Democrats should be wary of predictions made for the Texas Latino vote that are based on "here's how Latinos voted nationally" presumptions.

The state has been slowly trending purple (or at least purple-ish), which is another reason why Democrats keep dreaming. All those new voters are indeed making a difference, but the trendline is moving rather slowly -- perhaps too slow to make the dream a reality in either 2018 or 2020.

Today, Texas is casting primary votes for the midterm elections. The results may even be in by the time this article is posted, I should mention. So far, there has been an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm from Democrats, as measured by early votes cast. The Democratic turnout is up over 100 percent from the last midterms, while the Republican vote is only up something like 15 percent. That's a huge difference in enthusiasm, but early voting stats don't always pan out in total votes cast.

The other interesting trend in Texas is that Donald Trump's job approval rating in the Lone Star State is actually the lowest of any red state. This doesn't bode well for the midterms, which are often seen as a referendum on how the president is doing his job. It doesn't look like there will be "Trump coattails" at play in Texas, although things could always change by November.

While there are many House races that will be closely watched, the biggest race is for the Senate seat now held by Ted Cruz. Cruz doesn't have high job approval ratings from his constituents (the latest poll put him at 40 percent, which is pretty dismal for an incumbent), so if the Democratic primary turnout exceeds that of the Republicans, he could actually be in trouble. Of course, nothing would make Democrats happier in November than to send Ted Cruz packing, but he still has to be seen as the favorite to win the race. But if Democrats do win the seat, it would make the possibility of them taking control of the Senate much more likely.

Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic candidate, has so far been waging an impressive campaign. He swore early on not to accept money from super PACs, and even with this constraint has been outraising Cruz. Those small-donor donations add up, in other words. The fact that he's even close to Cruz in such a red state must be a worrisome sign for the Republicans.

Democrats could pick up as many as four or five House seats in November, but this will be tough to predict even after the primary voting totals are known. There are many districts with very tight races between a number of candidates (on both sides of the aisle), so excitement for one particular race may fade once the winnowing is complete (there may be runoff primary elections in many districts in a few weeks' time, if no candidate wins over 50 percent of the vote, I should mention).

The Texas primary is the real kickoff to the midterm election season. Because it is first (and so big, with so many interesting races), it will be scrutinized closely for signs of what's to come later in the year. If the turnout is as massive on the Democratic side as the early-voting returns suggest, then it's going to lead to a lot of exuberance and excitement among Democrats nationwide. So far, it hasn't been so much individual candidates or the Democratic Party that have driven the rising tide of blue, it has been Democratic voters, who seem more enthused about this midterm cycle than they've been in a very long time. The primaries aren't the same thing as the general election, of course, but a big Democratic turnout in Texas coupled with a subdued Republican turnout is just the continuation of a trend that's been happening elsewhere.

The big blue wave could be rising, and Texas might be another indicator of how big the swell is going to get. The very fact that Democrats are getting their hopes up in deep-red Texas isn't all that startling, because to a lesser extent it happens on a regular basis. But maybe -- just maybe, mind you -- that wave might crest high enough that Democratic dreams of winning Texas become reality this time around. The odds are still against it, but stranger things have happened in politics. Maybe this time, Texas won't be the one that got away, and the Democratic dream will finally be fulfilled.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


17 Comments on “Texas Dreams”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's nice to have a commentary free from bile and hatred and intolerance... But soon Weigantians will rouse from their slumber and bring it all out again..

    Let's enjoy some quality time until that happens..

    Yes, Democrats have always coveted Texas.. And they have always been disappointed, as they will again..

    And you hit it right on the head, CW...

    Democrats think that identity politics always win the day.. No where was that more evidence than in the 2016 elections..

    But what Democrats don't get is that the latinos they are banking on are AMERICANS first and latino and Dem/GOP after....

    That is what Democrats don't get and THAT is what Democrats always try to fight against..

    The idea that we're ALL Americans first and foremost and any other identity takes a back seat to that...

    THAT is why President Trump was so successful in his campaign.

    Because he reminded ALL Americans that there is something better than being black, better than being hispanic, better than being gay, better than being whatever..

    Being an AMERICAN is better than all of that and so much more..

    Democrats fight against that..

    That it why Democrats will continue to lose..

    Let the hatred and bile and intolerance begin..

    I'll be around until the next commentary that is free of all of that...

  2. [2] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    One man's Heaven is another man's Hell.

    The Dems taking Texas is the ultimate dream for you and the Big Money Democrat Deniers, but for those of us that believe in democracy it is much closer to Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny "What a nightmare."

    If the Dems are pinning their hopes on people figuring out that they are being conned by Trump without figuring out they are also being conned by the Big Money Democrats don't expect 2018 to be your dream come true as it will be more like 2016 all over again.

    When will Dems realize that their pathetic con can't possibly beat one the top con artists of all time, second only to Jesus?

  3. [3] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    But there was one small ray of hope in the article.

    "Those small-donor donations add up, in other words."

    So small donor campaigns can work. Who knew?

    While it is good that you recognize the concept as feasible and O'Rourke may have taken a step in the right direction, it is doubtful O'Rourke is running a true small contribution campaign.

    Now is a golden opportunity to force the Democrats to swear off Big Money and provide a real alternative to the Big Money Republicans.

    Don't fritter it away supporting the Big Money Democrats. You have acknowledged the solution- so do something about it.

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    One man's Heaven is another man's Hell.

    "Appearances may be deceiving."

    "One man's ceiling is another man's floor."

    "A fool's paradise is a wise man's hell."

    Never run with... scissors?"


    So small donor campaigns can work. Who knew?

    I think I have heard that somewhere before.. :D

    It's funny how Democrats embrace small donor donations.. When it suits their agenda.. :D

    Don't fritter it away supporting the Big Money Democrats. You have acknowledged the solution- so do something about it.


  5. [5] 
    Kick wrote:

    Texas is no longer a state that Republicans can take for granted; however, I don't foresee Texas flipping nationally anytime soon. Having said that, the double-digit wins by Republicans are winnowing down to single-digit wins, and Democrats are challenging Republicans in all 36 districts where they previously were allowing them to run unopposed. The long game is definitely in play, and statistically speaking, barring catastrophic events, Texas will eventually flip nationally... maybe 2028 at the earliest (obviously just my opinion).

    The 2018 primary turnout spike wasn't exactly evenly distributed statewide, and the biggest increases relative to prior midterms in 2014 and 2010 came in the major metropolitan and wealthy suburban areas. This bodes well for Democrats to possibly flip 2 or 3 seats in Texas. Most likely to flip are TX07, TX32, and/or TX23. Long shots but "in play" are TX02, TX21, and TX31.

    After the 2020 census, it's going to get infinitely more interesting with the continuing shift of population from Northeastern and Midwestern states to those Southern and Western, and I expect Texas will at least pick up another 2 seats.

  6. [6] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    "It's funny how Democrats embrace small donor donations.. when it suits their agenda."

    Yeah, but it's not funny ha-ha, it's funny tragic.

    "They'd run so far, they laughed so much,
    they laughed themselves to death."
    Ali Baba's Camel
    -Bonzo Dog Band

    And "Embrace" is way too strong a word. They only put on the appearance of small contribution campaigns which is part of their con.

    It would be nice if CW would EMBRACE the concept instead of giving it lip service and helping to perpetuate the illusion while cheering on the Big Money Democrats.

  7. [7] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    When will Dems realize that their pathetic con can't possibly beat one the top con artists of all time, second only to Jesus?

    What did Jesus do that earned him the title of #1 con man? Taught people to treat others as they want to be treated? Instructed that he who is without sin can be the first to judge others? Healed the the sick? What was the prize in his “con job”: getting whipped, beaten, and crucified for claiming to be the Son of God?

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    What did Jesus do that earned him the title of #1 con man?

    How about give up all the really fun stuff and you get forever in paradise??

    Pretty big con.... :D

  9. [9] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Where did Jesus say those things? Paul, who didn’t show up until after Jesus’ death, was the one making lists of appropriate actions and telling everyone what was and wasn’t acceptable. Sadly, Paul’s letters make up the majority of the New Testament despite the fact that the disciples who had been present with Jesus during his teachings did not support Paul.

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    Religion is a big con... Jesus represents the largest religion..

    Hence, Jesus gets the rap...

  11. [11] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Religion is a big con... Jesus represents the largest religion..

    Hence, Jesus gets the rap...

    So Trump deserves all of the crap he gets concerning the alt-right new-Nazi bigots, in other words.

  12. [12] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Neo-Nazi, not new-Nazi

  13. [13] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    i didn't peg you for a marxist, but hey, opiate of the masses and all, kudos... and i mean that sincerely.


  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    So Trump deserves all of the crap he gets concerning the alt-right new-Nazi bigots, in other words.

    And the hatred, intolerance and bigotry returns.. :^/

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    i didn't peg you for a marxist, but hey, opiate of the masses and all, kudos... and i mean that sincerely.

    I am not sure how you got "marxist" from what I said..

    But my anti-religion stance is well documented here in the People's Republic Of Weigantia..

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:


    So Trump deserves all of the crap

    Did you just compare President Trump to Jesus??? :D

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    What did Jesus do to deserve the title of number one con man?

    Everyone knew the story of what the messiah was supposed to be and he made sure he fit the bill.

    Since there was no fingerprinting or cameras or DNA back then the only way to identify Jesus was from a drawn picture or eyewitness identification.

    So he had Judas tell the Romans that the double was Jesus who was then crucified and after they removed his body from the tomb then the real Jesus miraculously showed up for a few quick appearances before hightailing it out of there to lands far away. (if he stuck around the jig would have been up).

    Either the double was a believer (see current day suicide bombers) or Jesus had the double's family under threat of execution if the double did not cooperate.

    And don't forget the stunt with the money changers in the church to make sure that the Jews were also against him which was part of the prophecy.

    Why? Who knows. Maybe he was just an ancient version of Andy Kaufman.

    For whatever reason, he is the top con man because people still believe it over 2000 years later.

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