Texas, a key state out of reach for Democrats

Democrats dream of that: winning an important election in the state of Texas, which hasn’t happened since 1990, when Ann Richards was elected governor. It is hard to imagine, as the specialized website 270 to win reminds us of US elections, that between 1872 and 1976, the Lone Star State regularly voted for donkey party candidates. Since the 1980s, Texas has become a stronghold of the Grand Old Party (GOP), the Republican rival.

However, in their analysis of the 2020 presidential election, released in February 2021, Texas Democrats estimated that a majority of state voters support their party (51%), “ but that Republicans are more likely to vote.” And those who insist: to overcome this handicap, it will be necessary in the future to be more active on the ground.

Read the report: Article reserved for our subscribers US Elections: How Texas Became a “Swing State”

A third try for Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic hope

Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke campaigns in San Benito, Texas, on November 1, 2022.

Invest in land: This is a recommendation that Beto O’Rourke has heard, and he spares no effort. On the occasion of the midterm elections – the partial exams – is running for governor of Texas, running against outgoing Republican Greg Abbott.

The Democrat is not on probation. In 2018, then elected from El Paso to the House of Representatives, he challenged ultra-conservative Ted Cruz at the polls for a seat in the Senate. Photos of Annie Leibovitz in the magazine. vanity fair, defender of American football player Colin Kaepernick, banned from his sport for having denounced police violence against African-Americans… Beto O’Rourke does everything he can to stir up enthusiasm beyond the borders of the Lone Star State. It will just fail. An honorable defeat that allows him to keep his future ambitions intact.

Read the review: Article reserved for our subscribers Midterms 2018: in Texas, the promising failure of Democrat Beto O’Rourke

In March 2019, he announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential elections. Before giving up in November of the same year: his campaign did not take off at the polls, he struggled to raise funds.

Three years later, this time he aspires to the position of governor of Texas, with a program based on the defense of the values ​​of liberal America: the right to abortion and, above all, gun control. In May, after the murder that occurred in a state primary school in Uvalde (twenty-one dead, including nineteen students and two teachers), he interrupted the Republican governor’s press conference to reproach him for his inaction: “You say it wasn’t predictable, it was completely predictable from the moment you decided to do nothing. » Beto O’Rourke has made this fight one of his main political milestones since the shooting committed by a far-right gunman in a supermarket in his hometown, El Paso (twenty-three dead), in 2019.

Participation, a central theme

For years, the Democrats have been seeking to break into the most populous state in the country after California, and therefore one of the largest providers of voters for the presidential election (thirty-eight in 2022, forty in 2024). But we must succeed in mobilizing beyond the urban areas where Joe Biden overtook Donald Trump in 2020.

On his campaign platform, Beto O’Rourke explains: “Texas is not a ‘red state’. [la couleur du parti républicain], is a state where people don’t vote. » adds that “The key to winning this election is to increase voter turnout. Get people off the bench and into the game.”

In 2018, the midterm turnout in Texas was 46.3%, up 18 points from 2014, when turnout was just 28.3%. Thus, for the Senate Ted Cruz (50.89%) won against Beto O’Rourke (48.33%), or 4.26 million votes for the former, 4.04 million for the latter… knowing that 7.42 million registered Texans did not vote. And that’s without the millions of Texans who were eligible to vote but didn’t bother to register.

The Latino vote favorable to the Democrats, but that is eroding

Representative Mayra Flores became the first Mexican-born woman to serve in Congress, as well as the first Hispanic Republican woman to represent Texas there, here in Washington on June 21, 2022.

The thing may seem paradoxical, but if the Democrats also have a hard time winning it is because of the Latino electorate, which represents 40% of the state’s population. An electorate that, however, is traditionally favorable to them… but that shuns the ballot box. “About two-thirds of Latinos continue to support Democrats, but Republican Latino voters outvoted Democratic Latino voters”argues the Texas branch of the party in its analysis of the 2020 presidential election.

Another problem: Progressives are so convinced that these voters are won over to their cause that they sometimes don’t bother trying to convince them anymore. A phenomenon highlighted by New York Times especially for counties on the border with Mexico. Finally, in more than 50 of Texas’ 254 counties, the Democratic Party simply has no structure and no representation.

Against them, in addition to passing laws that restrict access to the vote for minorities, the Republicans have launched the Red TX Project (literally “Red Texas Project”) and are beginning to field Latino candidates in these counties, with some success. .

Mayra Flores, an evangelical Christian, married to an agent of the United States Border Patrol, a unit that controls the border between the United States and Mexico, was elected by the Republican Party in the House of Representatives in June 2022, thanks to the resignation of his Democratic predecessor. , at 34me district, but won by Joe Biden in 2020.

Quite a symbol: she became the first woman born in Mexico to sit in Congress, as well as the first Hispanic Republican woman to represent the Lone Star State there. She is representing herself on November 8 against an elected Latino Democrat, Vincente González.

Finally, argue the atlanticthe Democratic message -defense of the right to abortion, control of firearms- goes against the convictions of a sector of this electorate, often religious and very conservative on social issues.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers US Elections 2020: The Latino vote disappoints the Democrats

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