Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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Texas ignored in 2012 election, but that will soon change

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Commentary: This year proved to be one of the most interesting and unpredictable political years I can remember.

It started out with the reasonable presumption that President Obama was toast. After all, he was saddled with a bad economy and even by election day a majority of Americans still believed the country was heading in the wrong direction.

In Citizens United, the Supreme Court authorized secret campaign contributions. In this cycle, Republican super-PACs almost had more money than they could spend. A wounded Democratic president hammered relentlessly by negative ads was supposed to help hand the Senate to Republicans

Of course it didn’t work out that way.

Republican primaries rewarded the most extreme narratives resulting in second tier candidates specializing in self-inflicted wounds.

Plus, Democrats knew the 10 states they had to win to hold the presidency and executed one of the best ground games in modern history. Even beyond the 10 states, Democrats made gains in both Houses of Congress.

Texas was all but ignored by the two parties. Sure, Democrats had a couple of surprise wins for Congress and the State Senate, but redistricting did what it was supposed to. It moved all the action away from November and into the primaries.

Gerrymandering is most effective in the first two elections after the maps are drawn, so by 2016 at the latest, Democrats should start winning down ballot races as districts change due to immigration from other states combined with our fast growing minority populations.

Republican Party of Texas chair Steve Munisteri nailed it. He says after the next census and reapportionment, just five states could deliver enough electoral votes to win the presidency in 2020: New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, California and Texas.

The GOP won’t be able to simply surrender California and Democrats can’t ignore a demographically changing target of opportunity like Texas.

Texas Democrats have long been abandoned by their national party, but the national chessboard is changing. Turnout tactics developed by Team Obama are transferrable to other states.

My bet? By the 2020 presidential election, Texas will be a battleground state.

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