Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Are Texas Republicans Running Out Of Voters?

Texas is on a record setting pace adding new voters to the state’s poll books for the 2020 election cycle. Adding new voters faster than its population is growing, the state has this month topped 16 million registered voters with the voter registration deadline for the March 3rd primaries, still two weeks away.

On this record pace of new voter registrations the state will have two million more registered voters for the primary than it did just four years ago when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 807,179 votes. Most of those two million new voters are younger more left-leaning voters who, if they turn out to voter, will largely vote for the Democrats on their ballot.

Barack Obama lost to Mitt Romney by sixteen percentage points in 2012 and Clinton narrowed the gap to just a nine percentage point loss to Donald Trump in 2016.

Texas Democrats, fueled by the party’s nearly quarter-century search to find a way to win any elected office from Republican control, are executing the largest “left-leaning” voter registration operation in the state's history.

At the core of the registration operation, which is a cooperative effort between state and county level Party organizations, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm for U.S. House Democrats, is an ambitious goal to register at least 2.5 million left-leaning Texans, using data-driven voter targeting tools, deploying more than 1,000 field organizers and canvassers on the ground, and mailing hundreds of thousands of voter registration applications to unregistered voters across the state.

The Texas Signal Blog reports:
Months before the general election, Republicans and Democrats are engaging in a separate but equally important race: to register as many voters as possible before the deadline.

That deadline, scheduled one month before the general election, will set in stone the potential electorate for both parties in 2020.

So far, Republicans and Democrats have poured huge sums of cash into their efforts to reach the remaining5.6 million unregistered Texans.

The state Democratic party hopes to register as many as possible from an estimated pool of 2.6 million Texans who they believe are likely to vote Democratic. By and large, their efforts will mainly target urban and suburban districts with a particular focus on young and minority voters.

That’s a deep well to draw from. Suburban communities in Texas– areas where Democrats have found increasing success in recent years– are continuing to explode in population, which means new potential voters.

Moreover, Texas is a relatively young state with a burgeoning Latino population, a demographic that has steadily begun to abandon the Republican Party.

One University of Houston poll conducted in September 2019 found that about half of Texans Latinos have at one point voted Republican. When asked if they planned to vote for Trump, only 19 percent said they would– 23 percent lower than the average Texan.

Equally telling, at the start of the past decade Republican candidates like Gov. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney commanded between 37 to 49 percent of Latino support. But by 2016 with the election of Trump, those figures have since dwindled to the low thirties.

“It’s a potential problem if the Republican Party doesn’t work harder to expand its base of support,” Mark Jones of Rice University told the Signal. “And that’s primarily focusing on Anglo-Millennials, post-Millennials (Gen Z), and Latinos, and to a lesser extent Asian Americans. The ship sailed long ago on African Americans.”

When looking at who Democrats and Republicans need to respectively register in order to win, the path to having a bigger electorate is much easier for Democrats since their base has more room to grow.

“The Democrats have much more to work with,” Jones said. “The pool of unregistered potential Democratic voters is larger than the pool of unregistered potential Republican voters.”

While urban areas already have relatively high voter registration rates, the remaining unregistered voters represent a significant chunk of potential ballots. For example, Harris County has around 90 percent of its voting-age residents registered, but the remaining 10 percent represents roughly 250,000 unregistered voters (remember, Sen. Ted Cruz beat Beto O’Rourke by only 220,000 votes).

These urban and suburban districts will play a critical role in 2020. Texas’ five largest urban counties– Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis contributed 43 percent of all votes cast in 2018. If Democrats continue making gains there, as well as the suburban counties that surround them, Republicans could find themselves without a base of support.

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