Thursday, December 18, 2008

Can Texas Go Blue Like Colorado?

The survey, conducted by David Hill, who operates the Houston-based Republican Hill Research firm, raises questions about whether the Republican Party might be in trouble in Texas after a decade of political dominance. Hill's survey states, in no uncertain terms, that for GOP candidates to succeed in Texas they must look beyond the party's base voters and wrap up 80 percent of independent voters that he calls the Critical Middle.

A well executed Get Out The Vote program to get just the members of your own party out to the polling places on election day is only part of what it takes to win elections with today's electorate. The other part of winning is planning and executing a Get Out The Vote program to identify, contact and motivate the "independents" that may be persuaded by your party's or candidate's message.

In Colorado the Republican GOTV effort got more Republicans to the polls on election day than did the Democratic GOTV effort - it was the independent voters that switched Colorado's color from red to blue in the 2008 election.

Democrats can win in Collin County, as well as other Republican "dominated" counties of Texas, by extending our GOTV effort to identify, contact and motivate the "independents" living in our counties.

The map at left shows the U.S. Congressional districts carried by Democratic candidates in the 2008 election. This shows that Democrats can win in large sections of the state and with the help of independents more counties can turn blue.

Who are the independents in Collin County? On election day 2008 there were 424,821 register voters in Collin County. Of that number 56,968 registered voters were in "suspend" status leaving 367,853 active voters. 298,647 people voted in the 2008 election in Collin County which means that 69,206 active voters did not vote. (Collin County elections data)

County level Democratic party organizations in each county that have not yet turned their county blue should start identifying the independents. Democratic organizations in Collin County should immediately start preparing for the 2010 election by answering a few basic questions: Who are the 56,968 registered voters in "suspend" status and what will it take to make them not only active voters again, but active Democrats? Who are the 69,206 active voters did not vote this year and why didn't they vote? Are they disaffected Republicans? How many might be persuaded to vote for the "right" Democratic candidate? It is among these numbers that Democrats will find the votes to turn Collin County blue.

Consider these excerpts from an article in The Denver Post.
Colorado Election Turned Out Surprises
The Denver Post
By John Ingold

More Republicans than Democrats voted in Colorado, but unaffiliateds helped color the state's big races blue.

According to new numbers from the Colorado secretary of state's office, Republicans in November voted in greater numbers than Democrats and — even more surprising — also turned out in higher percentages when compared with the parties' numbers of registered voters. In a state at the heart of the Democrats' Western strategy, Republicans still accounted for the largest voting bloc and yet lost in all of the highest-profile races.

That brain-twister, say political pundits, underscores the challenges both parties face moving toward what are expected to be equally contentious 2010 races for governor and U.S. Senate in a state that is now of decidedly mixed political leanings.

About 15,600 more Republicans voted in the election than Democrats, out of a record 2.4 million total voters statewide. In terms of turnout, slightly more than 80 percent of all registered Republicans voted this year, compared with about 79 percent of registered Democrats.

Statewide, Republicans still outpace Democrats in terms of total registered voters — though the numbers are closing and Democrats now count more active voters among their ranks than Republicans.

Independents, who make up the largest group of registered voters, trailed Republicans and Democrats in turnout this year. About 100,000 fewer unaffiliated voters cast ballots than did Republicans or Democrats. About 67 percent of registered independents voted in the election.

The key to the election, though, was how those unaffiliated people voted, said David Flaherty, chief executive of voter tracking firm Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies, which works with Republican candidates.

"The Republican get-out-the-vote effort executed very well," Flaherty said. "But at the end of the day, doing all those things right, it's about appealing to unaffiliated voters."

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