Why do I make the statement I do in the header?
It's because Battleground Texas' ideas, and especially the meta-idea of how it thinks this will all be relatively natural, and relatively easy, based on Hispanic ethnic demographics, aren't nearly as solidly grounded as Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, many BT leaders and other top state Democrats seem to believe.
And, also "Kos" himself. Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, has joined some of his crack-smoking minions in saying demographics point to Texas turning blue.
But, he, Battleground Texas, and Hinojosa are all wet, all of them.
(And, given my previous experience with Daily Kos, if not Markos in person, being essentially banned, by having my account suspended, for being too progressive and too Green, leads me to say, on things like this, if he thinks it's a great idea, it's probably not.)
Why? Snark aside, why are all these folks all wet?
In a phrase, younger Hispanics are more Protestant. And more religiously active in their belief.
In a second phrase, detailed below, Texas Hispanics, counting only known US citizens, have abysmal turnout compared to national Hispanic voting rates, not to mention US voting rates in general.
In a third phrase, even changing that won't fix everything. That's also detailed below.
In a fourth phrase, even fixing some other things leaves yet other things to be fixed. Also detailed below.
Anyway, here's the skinny.
Texas blue by 2030?
The Texas Democratic Party holds strongly that, by 2030, it can make Texas "blue," and at least threaten that already by 2020.
Well, there's a couple of problems with that.
Problem 1: Demographics within Hispanic demographics
Beyond what I just hinted at, there's the old "One white voter equals two black voters or three Hispanics." Now, with black turnout nationally nearly equaling white in 2012, the first part of that equation, even with allowance for its hyperbole, is pretty much spent.
The second part? Still a fair degree of truth.
Then, there's that pesky fact that young Hispanics are Protestant in far greater numbers than viejos and viejas.
In 2004, even with allowances for W's inroads among Latinos in general, Latino Protestants split 2-1 in his favor.
Yes, all across Texas, plenty a St. Joseph's Catholic Church is doing a Spanish-language Mass, or expanding what it already offers.
But, in even more places, Iglesia Evangelista de Bautista is springing up like bluebonnets.
So, Gilberto Hinojosa, just because "usted habla Español" doesn't mean that fellow linguists are going to pull the "D" at the voting booth. With many of the evangelical Protestants, you'll have to soft-sell or step around some social issues, like abortion. Maybe that's part of why Hispanic turnout is low right now?
You might say, but what if those young Protestants are no more religious than their Catholic parents or grandparents?
Well, they ARE. The Gallup poll covers that, too.
So, "blue Texas"? Color me a bit more skeptical. Also color me skeptical of the Texas Democratic Party thinking this can happen without some heavy lifting.
Problem 2: Hispanic vote turnout
You see, it's true that on turnout, the old story of 1 Anglo = 2 African-Americans = 3 Hispanics is no longer true. At least not for black voters, who surpassed whites nationally in percentage of turnout last year.
Hispanics, though? They still trailed by a fair degree.
Texas Hispanics? They were an additional 10 percentage points behind the national average. Nationally, 48 percent of eligible Hispanics voted. In Texas, just 38 percent. And, no, this isn't an "illegals" issue; the graphs are all based on Hispanics who are U.S. citizens. So, Gilberto? Before relying on demographic assumptions that are undercut by other demographics within your ethnic group, you might want to first get your ethnic group to actually show up at the polls.
And, Thomas B. Edsall says that even getting Hispanic vote and registration rates up to national averages, with a presumed break of 71 percent Democrat, still leaves the Democrats and folks like Battleground Texas looking way up, way way up. Indeed, even if Hispanics voted in Texas at the same rate as all races voted nationally, Mitt Romney STILL would have beaten Barack Obama in Texas by 800,000 votes. In short, with reasonable Hispanic turnout, Texas might not be as red as Oklahoma, but it would still be as red as, say, Kentucky.
Meanwhile, a nutbar at Daily Kos claims Edsall says that Battleground Texas has Greg Abbott quaking. Other than Abbott's over-the-top comment that Edsall quoted, he said no such thing, just wingnut hyperbole in the quote.
It's amazing how delusional a lot of Kossacks are on these "Democrats right or wrong" type issues. Of course, when your Fearless Leader believes there's secret libruls in the CIA, that explains a lot.
Related to that, another Kossack engaged in mental masturbation that, if Texans just somehow controlled the State Lege and Governor's Mansion, Texas would have a 20-16 Democrat edge in Congresscritters. Besides the stupidity and unreality of the hypothetical, even in reality, there's reasons that wouldn't have happened, on the redistricting, etc., as I blogged here.
Problem 3: Other issues, part 1
The biggest other issue is that, as the Texas Democratic Party has lost turf, it's — to be blunt — fielded crappy candidates for major, statewide offices.
Last three governor's races? Tony Sanchez, Chris Bell and Bill White? An apolitical Hispanic who had given the GOP big bucks, somebody with little name reputation and little platform beyond honesty, and a neolib who had an inept campaign while, I guess, hoping for all those magic Hispanics. (Don't forget Gary Mauro in 1998, advised by many not to challenge Shrub.)
We could call the last three candidates Mr. Republican, Tony Sanchez in 2002; Mr. Snooze, Chris Bell, in 2006; Mr. Vacuous, Bill White, in 2010. So, if San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro's already a no-show for 2014, who will Dems run for governor?
Recent US Senate races? Ted Cruz faced a Democratic retread in Paul Sadler. Rick Noriega was OK against John Cornyn in 2008, if not fantastic, and still lost by more than 12 percentage points.
Whose going to run against Cornyn next year? Against either Perry or Abbott for gov? No state House members have name recognition; no state Senate Dems from Dallas or Houston have balls (or much more name recognition). And, no Democratic non-politician has uttered a peep.
And, speaking of Bill White, as I noted in a comment, remembering how so many Texas Democratic leaders were talking up his chances so much, don't be claiming that because I don't have a poly-sci degree, I can't do campaign and political analysis, although I'm delighted that his post has caught the attention of at least one of you. (I hear your gored ox bellowing. And wonder how well you've done with Hispanic voter turnout on particular campaigns.)
Problem 4: Other issues, part 2
|Williamson County Democrats — eager, but no takers?|
Battleground Texas photo via Daily Kos
He ought to be emailing a link to the PBS Frontline episode about the State Board of Education to every move-in from another state for whom he gets an email address. He ought to be talking about education in general to any transplants with children.
I mean, look at the photo here, from this other new post by Kos himself about the Texas GOP countering Battleground Texas and how earthshaking this allegedly is.
Despite all the talk about Hispanic demographics, those volunteers all look Anglo to me, with the possible exception of the lady furthest right. In a county that's 20 percent Hispanic, which means that county Democratic numbers (if voting turnout were better) would be 30 percent Democratic or more.
And, despite all those volunteers, and allowing for it to be a posed PR shot, there's still nobody signing up for anything!
Otherwise, Hinojosa has kind of a "party hack" reputation among many who know.
Meanwhile, per The American Prospect, let's look at Battleground Texas. And the uphill sledding it has to do.
Executive Director Jenn Brown may have done well with African-American voters in Ohio, but black votes ain't the issue. Good luck, especially since she is in part working with Texans who have previous political experience — Texans who (per TAP) can't even get half the state's Hispanics registered!
Democrats can’t simply start knocking on doors in neighborhoods that have long been shunned, asking for votes and expecting results. The Latino Decisions election-eve poll showed the depths of Texas Democrats’ dysfunction: Only 25 percent of Texas Latinos had been contacted by a campaign, a political party, or a community organization of any kind—compared with 59 percent in Colorado, 51 percent in Nevada, and 48 percent in New Mexico.That's abysmal, Hefe Hinojosa and other Texas Democratic Party leaders, Hispanic and non-Hispanic alike.
Second, per Abby Rapoport at TAP, dating back to Shrub, Texas Republicans have, in general, been better at Hispanic outreach than the national GOP. And, having a Hispanic U.S. Senator now will help.
Third, Rapoport buys into the same mindset as Texas Dems, that Abbott et al are doing nothing but giving Battleground Texas free PR. Well, GOP state Chairman Steve Munisteri may be doing that, but Abbott and other elected officials are instead throwing red meat to constituents. Any free PR for Battleground Texas is simply a spandrel.
Fourth, in claiming GOP supremacy in Texas is relatively new, compared to other Southern states, well, not quite so. John Tower was first elected to the Senate back in 1962. And, both Senators have been GOP for two decades now. That's earlier than some other Southern states could say. Ditto for when Texas, versus other Southern states, first elected a GOP governor.
Fifth, she really doesn't know Texas politics if she says:
In 2002, Democrats ran what they thought was a “dream team”—wealthy businessman Tony Sanchez for governor and Ron Kirk, an African American who’d been elected mayor in Dallas, for U.S. senator.She ignores that Mr. Republican's GOP donations were becoming a matter of public knowledge by the time he was nominated. She also ignores that John Sharp, the machinator behind this, was already moving further right.
And, she also ignores that the nomination of Sanchez, for his bucks, rather than a mainline Hispanic Democrat, showed that already then, the Democratic "bench" (and ideas) were pretty much bankrupt.
Now, on the plus side, she gets Brown to admit that this is a long-term effort. And that it has to be. And that, for right now, however long "right now" is, BT won't do any statewide efforts.
And that Harris County, compared to Dallas County, has been a, well, a miserable failure on trying to go blue. And, that's with blacks and Hispanics actually being a little bit larger percentage of the population in Harris County.
So, let's crunch the electoral projections and kind of wrap things up.
Other than that, I don't really expect a Texas Democrat to win a statewide race before 2030. Period. Along with Texas Dems overrating any demographic advantage, the party's had basically horrible candidates for statewide races. And a leadership that's semi-inept, if not fully so.
That's why it's laughable that yet another Democratic blogger insists that the promised land will be reached, and fairly quickly. Meanwhile, though, let's hope that GOP operative Matt Mackowiak is not listened to by the likes of Hinojosa. Shorter Mackowiak: Dems need to run a Bill White type for gov. Whether Battleground Texas is an Obama-organized vehicle for Castro, as Mackowiak claims, is another, albeit interesting, issue.
Yes, per this blog, the GOP also has a Hispanic problem. Maybe that's part of why, metaphorically, one white vote often still equals three Hispanic ones. Young, active Protestant Hispanics don't feel very much at home in either party and so don't vote. And that blog shows that identification as Democrats falls among young Hispanics, even if there's no rise in identification as Republicans.
Some in the GOP think if they just pass some watered down immigration bill, then Hispanics will flock to their banner. I think that is ludicrous. It is going to take a lot more. They are going to have to start treating Hispanic citizens as equals, and undocumented immigrants as humans worthy of some respect. The problem the GOP has is that the teabaggers, who control the GOP in many states, simply are not ready to do that. Until they are ready to change their attitude, the GOP is going to have trouble wooing Hispanics.True that.
But, per my comment above, Texas Democrats are going to have to acknowledge that many younger Hispanics are pro-life, socially conservative in general, and often strongly anti-gay. In short, Texas Democrats need to accept that they probably need to simply write off at least one-fifth, probably one-quarter, maybe even one-third of Hispanics under the age of 35 today as ever being or becoming reliable regular Democratic voters.
Period. End of story. ¿Comprendes, Señor Hinojosa?
Actually, not the end of story.
Meanwhile, I say this not because I enjoy Texas Democrats continuing to lose.
Rather, I want them to win, but to do the groundwork of building a good foundation, and of getting good, non-neoliberal candidates. In other words, Texas Democrats, like national ones, need to stop being neoliberals, need to start recognizing that many disaffected (including this Green-leaner) are tired of the neoliberal parade, and want and deserve better.
And, speaking of ....
I issue a challenge to the true believers
Let's look at this issue per the various subheaders of this blog post.
First, why is Texas' Hispanic voting rate 10 percentage points below the national average? Can that gap be closed, and how quickly? What do you think it will take?
Second, since, per Tom Edsall, that alone will be nowhere near enough, what does Battleground Texas and the Texas Democratic Party need to do to recruit more white voters, whether native/semi-native, or recent moves from elsewhere in the country? Has either BG or TDP made specific statements to that end or indicated they have a strategy?
Third, name me some names for non-crappy candidates in future elections. Related to that, tell me more specifically why black Democrats, say black state senators like Royce West and Rodney Ellis, refuse to consider running for statewide offices?
Fourth, other than hype/hoopla, even though BG is brand new, are you satisfied so far, not just with what you hear, but, per Jenn Brown, being told to can the hoopla and dig in for a long-term, and incremental-step, grind? Hinojosa is semi-new but not brand new as TDP chair, and he's nowhere near new as a politico. Are you satisfied with his work? With him being party chair?