New Republic: Opinion: John B. Judis: Democrats Hope Battleground Texas Can Turn Texas Blue
Do I think Wendy Davis will be elected Governor of Texas next Tuesday or anytime soon? Of course not because I haven’t seen any polls that show that race between her and Greg Abbot is even within five points, perhaps not even ten points. Even though she did do well in the two debates against Greg Abbot and you could argue she won both debates. And she did pick up some big city paper endorsements in Texas as well. But when you are a big underdog going in, you simply can’t afford to make the big campaign mistakes that she has, including some bad commercials.
2014 won’t be the year for Texas Democrats, but 2018, 2020 we may see that state move in a different direction. And the racial and ethnic trends in that state will be a big factor. With the growing Latino population in that state and the shrinking Caucasian population as well. But that only matters if people vote and right now Republican voters in Texas are primarily Caucasian, but they are very reliable voters. Latinos aren’t right now and only vote big in presidential elections.
So a growing Latino population in Texas won’t be enough to make that state competitive in Texas for Democrats. If they have this idea that they’ll just wait until Texas looks like California, especially Los Angeles and San Francisco, or look like Seattle, or Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington politically, culturally, racially and ethnically, Texas will remain red indefinitely. Because one thing that Texans of all backgrounds prides themselves on is that they are like those big blue cities and blue states.
For Texas Democrats to succeed, they have to succeed in Texas and win Texas voters. Instead of campaigning there like they are campaigning in Los Angeles, or San Francisco or New England. They have to win voters in Texas and when the other party outnumbers you, you have to win over voters who tend to vote Republican. But perhaps aren’t as far to the right or as partisan as others Republicans and the leadership and looking for an alternative to the Republican Party in Texas.
Going into the 2014 Texas governors race, I thought Wendy Davis at least on paper before all the campaign mistakes was that type of Democrat. That if she didn’t win the election, she would at least make it a race and perhaps start moving the state in a Democratic direction. That hasn’t happened because she hasn’t run a very good campaign. But on paper she looks very Texan politically, but in a Democratic sense.
Liberal on social issues, pro-gun, pro-choice and not just as it relates to abortion, but other social issues as well, including as it relates to homosexuality. Fiscally responsible, big believer in education and opportunity so more Texans can succeed and not be dependent on public assistance. She looks like a New Democrat in the political and ideological sense, instead of someone from the Progressive Caucus or Green Party trying to convince Texans that they are wrong politically and need to be more progressive or even socialist on a whole wide range of issues.
That is how Texas Democrats can win in Texas in the future, but run effective campaigns without the big errors of the Wendy Davis campaign. Don’t treat Texas like California or New England politically, but run in Texas as if you are in Texas speaking to Texan voters who aren’t nearly as far to the Left as the big blue states. With a mainstream center-left message built around education and opportunity for all, with big government off everyone’s back, where everyone can succeed. That would be a winning message for Texas Democrats in the future and Latinos could help them win with that.