On the Agenda: Texas Dems struggle to harness demographic shifts sweeping rest of country
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Love them or hate them, election exit polls tell us more about the electorate than all of the hundreds of pre-election polls.
They drill down telling us what demographics voted, in what numbers, who they voted for and why. But this year, national news organizations skipped Texas to focus on battleground states.
Oh, I get it. Even perfunctory polling indicated that the state was incontrovertibly Republican. In fact, President Obama scored three percentage points lower in Texas than four years before.
But Texas was an anomaly. President Obama did better in most other southern states than any Democrat in 30 years. A combination of 75 percent of Hispanic-Americans, 75 percent of Asian-Americans and 90-plus percent of African-Americans along with huge super-majorities among single women and young people explained his success. And all of those groups are growing parts of the electorate while traditional GOP white vote is shrinking.
Ironically, nearly every national pre-election poll reported that Republicans had higher voter intensity than did Democrats. Yet that Republican advantage ultimately collapsed.
But not in the Lone Star State
Face it. Texas is the most expensive state in the country for Democrats to rebuild a political party. The state has three out of ten of the most expensive media markets.
But a little noted relatively low-budget effort in San Antonio demonstrated what Democrats have to do to capitalize on demographic shifts that are making a difference elsewhere in the country.
A wealthy contributor kicked in $600,000 to build a ground game that spent months identifying 125,000 so-called soft Democrats who voted in 2008. The organization made multiple contacts and, according to a San Antonio Express News report was so successful, almost half of those targeted showed up to vote early.
Democrats had a blowout year in the San Antonio area and that $600,000 may have been the best utilized Democratic money in the cycle.
Turnout drops dramatically in non-presidential years, so Texas will probably still be solidly Republican in 2014. But a barely noticed effort in San Antonio may have built the roadmap to a future two party state.