If the Republican Party doesn’t take drastic action, it will lose Texas to the Democratic Party faster than a sneeze through a screen door. The GOP has held the Lone Star State for decades, but there have been signs that their reign is coming to an end.
During last year’s midterm elections, Texans saw how close the Democrats are to becoming a dominant force in their politics. Indeed, many were completely convinced that Beto O’ Rourke would become the state’s next senator despite his blatant cultural appropriation. But now, there are more indicators that Texas might soon be saying “happy trails” to the GOP.
Texas Turning Blue?
The Christian Science Monitor speculates on the possibility of a Democratic takeover of Texas. While acknowledging that “no Democrat won statewide in 2018,” The Monitor’s Henry Gass pointed to progressive performances in down-ballot races, explaining that the party “had its best election in decades.”
Another factor in this equation is the recent trend of congressional Republicans deciding against pursuing reelection. This phenomenon, which has been given the name “Texodus,” seems to be a political omen bearing an urgent warning to the GOP. The five Republican members of Congress who are retiring represent districts that are becoming increasingly blue, and the Democrats are still pushing forward.
At the Monitor Breakfast, Texas Senator Ted Cruz explained the reasons for the changing political climate. “Suburban voters – in particular suburban women – have been moving left,” he said. “That’s turning states with big suburban populations – states like Texas, states like Georgia, states like Arizona – much more purple.”
Cruz also delved into the reasons the left has become energized in Texas. “The far left is pissed off, they hate the president and that is a powerful motivator,” he remarked. “If the left shows up in massive numbers and everybody else doesn’t that’s how we end up with an incredibly damaging election.”
Why Is the GOP Losing Texas?
Several factors explain why Texas politics might be at the start of a dramatic transformation. Demographics certainly play a role, of course. Legal and illegal immigration are both changing the ethnic makeup of the Lone Star State. An increasing number of immigrants enter the state each year. While this certainly has an impact, it does not fully explain the GOP’s loosening grasp on Texas. Most of these individuals cannot vote, and while voter fraud certainly occurs, there exists no concrete evidence that it is swinging elections.
It is also essential to consider that Texas, like the rest of the nation, is quite polarized when it comes to President Donald Trump. According to The Christian Science Monitor, about 45% of registered voters approve of the president while 50% do not.
A recent University of Texas survey revealed that Trump’s numbers were lower than most of the Democratic candidates vying for the nomination. This study lends some credibility to Sen. Cruz’s assertion that Trump is not winning over suburban mothers.
Nancy Bocskor, director of the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the Texas Woman’s University, told The Christian Science Monitor she blamed Trump’s rhetoric for his failure to win over suburban moms. She said his behavior “trumps anything he’s doing with the economy for many suburban women.”
Broadening the Base
Given the shifting demographics, it is clear that the Republican Party in Texas must make some key changes to its platform if it plans to prevent the Democrats from dominating the state’s political machine.
The GOP needs to expand its focus and begin courting Hispanic and black voters. The only way to prevent the Democratic takeover is to chip away at their core voting blocs. Fortunately for the GOP, Florida’s senatorial and gubernatorial elections last year provide something of a blueprint for success.
When Rick Scott ran for Senate, he realized he had to win over a significant percentage of Hispanic voters. David Custin, head of DRC Consulting, told The Hill that “Scott showed how you’re supposed to campaign in Spanish in Florida.” He explained that Scott “made the effort and put in the financial commitment and the blood, sweat and tears.”
This strategy also paid off for Governor Ron DeSantis, who won 44% of Hispanic voters. This was a 13% increase over Scott’s run for the office in 2014. The fact that his running mate was Cuban-American businesswoman Jeanette Nuñez didn’t hurt his odds either.
As for women voters? Well, there isn’t much that can be done in that regard. President Trump is not likely to give up his tweeting habit anytime soon, and his Twitter feuds will continue to push away suburban women. But perhaps the Republican Party can figure out how to take the focus off Trump and emphasize their successful policies.
Texas has long been essential for the Republican Party when it comes to winning presidential elections. The state’s electoral votes have helped the GOP rival those of coastal states which typically favor Democratic candidates. Losing the Lone Star State would strike a death blow to the GOP’s ability to win the presidency in future elections. For this reason, it is crucial that the party reimagine its strategy. Otherwise, they might not win another presidential election. As Ted Cruz told The Christian Science Monitor, “If we lose Texas, it’s game over.”