If you don't know what the opposition is doing, how will you go to battle?
After the last national election, we Republican voters were a bit astonished to look at the raw numbers of voter information. OK, we were a lot astonished. The usual steps of grief were in play. You know the ones - denial, anger, resolve, etc. I've made peace with the results of pouring over the numbers but that peace doesn't involve apathy. If you are a Republican voter or if you are an Independent voter, in particular, I ask that you take a moment and look at a piece in the San Antonio Current. It neatly explains what I have been talking about since last November. Yes, another blogger has a post up today about this article. A liberal blogger. See how that works?
The steep loss of women voters for Republicans is a game changer. Without the majority of women voting for our candidates, Republicans will not win elections. Today women make up 54% to 56% of the electorate. White women make up the majority of that demographic. So, Republicans, we have to extend ourselves to women. Here in Texas you may think, well, that's not a problem, right? It's a big problem and I will use this piece from the Current to explain. While Hispanic voters are the growing demographic, women voters are the key to it all:
However, there is nothing fuzzy about the math. The Democrats can take Texas in 2016 if they can tap into one a key segment: white Texans, and in particular white women, the new kingmakers–or queenmakers–of Lone Star politics.Why? Women of color broadly support Democratic candidates, but that’s just the point: BGTX needs to mine new veins of voters. At least at this stage, minority population trends alone will not lock up the race, since heavily Republican non-Hispanic whites will still hold a slim majority through the next presidential cycle. Even if Battleground succeeds in ramping up meager Hispanic voter turnout to white levels, a Republican candidate would likely still prevail in 2016.“I think [Texas Battleground] realizes that it’s not just a matter of finding and turning out minority voters,” says Ruy Teixeira, co-author of the book The Emerging Democratic Majority and a senior fellow at Center for American Progress. “It’s also a matter of finding and turning out relatively liberal white voters, given the structure of the Texas electorate and given how conservatively white voters have been voting. The treasure trove would presumably be more likely to be college educated, more likely to be younger, and more likely to be women living in the big metropolitan areas.”We may be able to reliably turn out the white male vote but that is not the case with women. This is why our message, and the delivery of that message, is so very important. We need happy warriors out there articulating the message of the Republican party and how our philosophy works better for everyone. While it probably won't happen in time for the 2016 election cycle, Texas can go blue as early as 2020.
Fast forward through eight years of demographic change and the figures converge much closer to a tipping point by 2016. Utilizing 2008 Texas exit polls (not available for the state in 2012) crossed with U.S. Census Bureau voter turnout figures from 2012, and applying those ratios to a projection of the number of 2016 eligible voters by ethnicity as calculated by the Center for American Progress yields a Republican victory in in the next contest.Even under an assumption that Battleground Texas successfully mobilizes target voters, elevating Hispanic and other minority turnout to levels achieved by whites last year (which is actually a slight decrease for African-Americans, the group posting the highest 2012 turnout rate), the state retains its crimson hue by a five-point 52-47 margin. However, given those same parameters, tweaking up Democratic support by white women from 28 percent (from 2008 exit polls) to, say, a lowly 35 percent, blues the result.
Do I have your attention yet? By Democrats recruiting a growing percentage of white women in particular, Texas as a blue state becomes a reality. And, with Hillary Clinton as a front runner in names for the 2016 presidential race, that should be a real eyeopener for us all. Women who are Independent voters but lean conservative will turn out in large numbers to support her, don't kid yourself. Much like Barack Obama increased the black vote enough to become president, Hillary Clinton will do the same with the votes of women.
That’s why, in order to accelerate the demographic slide into blue territory, the Democrats will have to both peel off white support from the Republicans and mobilize whites who currently do not vote—in part because of the perception of futility of voting Dem in Texas. Fortunately for BGTX, the hard swerve to the right by the current Republican Party has left the political center wide open for recruitment of moderate white voters, all the more so for females incensed by the recent Republican-led restrictions on their reproductive rights.
As I have written about before, Battleground Texas is an offshoot from OFA and Team Obama. They are skilled in the details of organizing. During their frequent workshops, one held here in Houston last weekend, they drill down into the specifics of those attending the event. They know all about their supporters and use it to target specific events and neighborhoods with their volunteers. They send Hispanic volunteers to Hispanic events, etc. They have identified single moms, families with children, gay supporters, religious affiliations, and so on. This all accelerates their success.
Out of Austin, a lean BGTX managerial team recruits “fellows” who pledge a certain number of hours per week and attend a boot camp. Each fellow coordinates a team of regular volunteers back in their neighborhood. In the organization’s first four months, it recruited and trained over 2,500 deputy voter registrars across the state and 200 summer fellows all across Texas, with over a dozen in San Antonio. Following the OFA “snowflake” model, these volunteers participate in voter registration drives at events, through phone banks and by door-to-door canvassing. Voter registration is dual purpose: It elevates the number of registered voters, and information on the voter-registration card is harvested for a master database.Our ground game needs an overhaul. Statewide and locally, we are lagging.
It can be hard to take seriously the steady issuance of resolutions by the Republican Party of Texas to embrace minority politics and policies. A recently issued memo on the group’s Web site reads: “We will also be adding a significant number of field staff to be embedded in the Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American communities around Texas.” Embedded sounds so... creepy? Yet BGTX volunteers just scratch their heads when asked if they see GOP counterparts canvassing at public events. Activists are nowhere to be found. “They’re probably at the golf clubs and the banquets,” quips the BCDP’s Emil Hunziker. “The Republican Party doesn’t have any idea how to do a ground game.”This is where I commend my friend, the Hon. Martha Wong, on her persistence and forward looking strategy in Republican politics. Thanks to Martha Wong's work in reaching out to RPT's Chairman Steve Munisteri and his team in Austin, the state organization is now actively doing outreach in the Asian community. The Asian American community is the fastest growing minority in Texas.
The Democratic woman vote has been described as "dormant" and that may be true but what did State Senator Wendy Davis do this summer? She energized them as never before. Along with stories of success from Battleground Texas, liberal women voters are feeling quite optimistic about the future of politics in Texas.
Moving forward, it is important to remember that Republican women do the grassroots activity in Texas. Though the membership numbers in Republican women clubs has not strongly increased in recent years, it is important to remember party history and where the resources lay.
Some big Texas money has already aligned with the push to make Hillary Clinton the 2016 Democrat nominee. It is time to get out of the conservative vacuum and get busy. Demand that voter registration is available at upcoming events and encourage your network of friends and family to get active.
I'll write more as the days continue about women and voting. It is the difference in winning or losing, even here in Texas.