Hannah Bentz, ‘16
On Febuary 26, 2013 The Colbert Report interviewed Jeremy Bird, Field Director of President Obama’s 2012 campaign. Jeremy Bird established a grassroots organization to encourage people to vote in the red state of Texas. Battleground Texas’s goal is to get minority groups in the state to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Bird believes that face-to-face communication over the next four years will encourage voters to turn out at the polls. The demographic groups that Democrats have targeted for core support are nonwhites, unmarried women, and millennials. Currently the makeup of the Texas government does not reflect its population. Bird calls this a government for half of the people by half of the people. Bird’s goal is to make everyone part of the democratic process so the government reflects the people it serves. Republicans are asking themselves if they should be worried about the 2016 election in Texas.
In Micah Cohen’s article, “Can Democrats Turn Texas and Arizona Blue by 2016?,” he states that Republicans should be worried. Texas is one of four majority minority states, and political races will become much closer if Democrats can get those minority groups to the voting polls. The Center for American Progress projects that the growth in eligible voters over the next four years will be fast-paced minority growth with negative growth among non-Hispanic whites. By promoting participation in one’s civic duty, Democrats have the ability to take over the state of Texas by appealing to the under-served demographic groups. Currently, Democrats win 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, but only half of the registered Hispanic voters make it to the polls. In order to make Texas a more politically competitive state, the electorate needs to be expanded. In the 2012 presidential election, President Obama had a clear advantage in states with more diverse electorates. Despite the continued growth of minority voters in Texas, the Democrats will not have the advantage of Texas being a swing state in the near future.
Alex Wagner from MSNBC also weighed in on the controversial conversation about whether Texas will become a blue or battle ground state. She discusses how Julian and Joaquin Castro, rising stars for the Democratic Party, are the best chances for the changing political environment of Texas. They are two politically talented brothers that hold great potential for changing their home state. Texas state representatives have consisted completely of Republicans since the Presidential election in 1980. Residents have not elected a Democrat statewide since the mid-1990s, which is the longest running streak in the nation. There are two main hurdles that Texas Democrats will have to face in order to end that streak. First, they will have to address the extreme low voter participation of their supporters; 4.1 million Hispanics are currently registered, but only half of them routinely vote. The second speed bump that Democrats face is the weak campaign infrastructure throughout Texas. Due to the domination of Republicans within Texas, the Democrats do not have a widespread political base. With the help of Battleground Texas, Democrats have support in their goal of promoting minority voting and turning Texas blue.
Texas may not become a swing state within the next four years, but the increasing growth of minorities will eventually make it a politically competitive state. If Battleground Texas receives support, then it will only take time for Democrats to make an impact on the electorate. Governor of Texas, Rick Perry commented about the possibility of the state turning blue, saying “…it is the biggest pipe dream I have ever heard.” The current political society is changing so quickly that there is a possibility that anything could happen.