Texas Could Turn Blue, The First Time In Decades

by Thursday, October 27, 2016

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  • “One of the biggest myths about Texas is that Democrats always get stomped on here.” The reality, he said, “is just that we seldom have the resources to compete statewide.”
  • “He sounds racist to everybody. He has to realize that we’re all immigrants — I mean if you’re not Native American — you’re not a true American.”
  • Past efforts to increase the share of the Latino vote from 17% of the electorate have largely been unsuccessful.

Still, many here believe Clinton could draw a greater share of the vote than even Obama did in 2008, when he won nearly 44% of the vote to Republican nominee John McCain’s 55.5%.

Looking to appear on offense, the Clinton campaign placed a six-figure ad buy in Texas this month highlighting the endorsement of her campaign by the Dallas Morning News — the first time the paper backed a Democrat since 1940. But the low-dollar investment in an exorbitantly expensive state was largely a symbolic gesture.

A strong Clinton showing on Nov. 8 “could reinforce the argument that Texas doesn’t have to wait for demographics,” Angle said. “One of the biggest myths about Texas is that Democrats always get stomped on here.” The reality, he said, “is just that we seldom have the resources to compete statewide.”

Democrats who want to see the national party invest more heavily in this state are eager to see what the Trump effect will be in the 23rd Congressional District, a swing district stretching from the San Antonio suburbs to El Paso that is more than 70% Hispanic.

Freshman Rep. Will Hurd is in a fierce race to defend his seat against former congressman Pete Gallego. Democrats believe that reclaiming that district would show that if they put resources behind a strong Democratic candidate, they can win.

James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, is wary of reading too much into this year’s statewide poll numbers as signs of a seismic shift in Texas. In interviews here, many Republican voters said they simply loathed both Trump and Clinton — and were particularly offended by Trump’s rhetoric on immigrants.

“I would have voted Republican… Normally this is a Republican state, but Trump has pretty much said a lot of things to piss everybody off,” said Jerry Carrasco, a 45-year-old independent from San Antonio, who voted for both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
“He sounds racist to everybody. He has to realize that we’re all immigrants — I mean if you’re not Native American — you’re not a true American. He forgot that,” said Carrasco, whose family immigrated to Texas from Mexico in the 1800s. “If he’s going to run for president, he needs to be more respectful. He sounds like an idiot at times.”

Carrasco said he and his colleagues laugh about the sheer impossibility of Trump’s proposal to build a wall: “I’ve worked out there in South Texas and it’s difficult. It’s very harsh terrain and the way the Rio Grande always floods, the soily roads. It’s not going to happen.”

“The border — they’re never going to stop that,” Carrasco added. “They’re going to be crossing no matter what. If you put a fence up they’re just going to find a way to get around it.”

The Trump effect could make the closeness in Texas a one-time phenomenon. Past efforts to increase the share of the Latino vote from 17% of the electorate have largely been unsuccessful, particularly those by the group known as Battleground Texas and the Wendy Davis gubernatorial campaign in 2014.

“As long as I have been following politics, Democrats have been saying ‘We’re going to go out, we’re going to mobilize Hispanics this time, and we’re going to take back the state,'” said Henson. “In fact it’s gotten worse from the Democrats’ perspective,” he said, pointing out that there are currently no statewide Democratic officeholders. “So it’s hard not to look at (this year’s poll numbers) without a certain degree of skepticism.”

 

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