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Hillary Clinton on the Trump effect in Texas

I have three things to say about this.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton posed a wild notion in a new interview: She could carry Texas in the fall.

In a newly published New York magazine interview with reporter Rebecca Traister, Clinton was asked which traditionally red states she might make a play for against likely GOP nominee, Donald Trump:

“Texas!” she exclaimed, eyes wide, as if daring me to question this, which I did. “You are not going to win Texas,” I said. She smiled, undaunted. “If black and Latino voters come out and vote, we could win Texas,” she told me firmly, practically licking her lips.

While a long-coveted prize for Democrats, few political players in Texas see a path for the Democrats to carry the state in this general election. Two years ago, the state’s Democrats had a similar strategy to Clinton’s in hoping that Wendy Davis could draw more minorities to the polls in a high-profile bid for governor. She ultimately lost to Republican Greg Abbott by 20 points.

Still, Trump’s unconventional candidacy has re-set the electoral map, with political strategists debating which states are – and are not – newly competitive. Some argue that Trump could possibly challenge Clinton in Rust Belt states that Democrats have recently carried with ease, while motivating a backlash in minority turnout in Southern and Western states.


The reality for Clinton is that her Texas general election outlook remains grim, even if Trump’s incendiary statements about Hispanics and African Americans might boost turnout against him in the state’s metropolitan areas.

In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney defeated President Obama by a 16 point margin. U.S. Sen. John McCain defeated Obama by an 11 point margin in 2008.

1. I appreciate the optimism, but the cold reality is that in the 2012 election, Mitt Romney received 1,261,719 more votes than President Obama did. It strains credulity to think that such a gap could be closed via increases in voter registration and participation. To be sure, some of that gap can, should, and absolutely needs to be closed, but in the short term it’s going to take reducing the number of Republican votes to really make things interesting. Perhaps some of that will happen. I have operated under the assumption that some number of Republicans will refuse to vote for Donald Trump, with some undervoting or staying home, some voting Libertarian, and some supporting Clinton. We can only guess how much of that may happen, but any blue sky scenario that involves Texas being a closer race than we have seen this century involves fewer Republican votes for Trump as much as it involves a boost in Democratic turnout.

2. Of course, Hillary Clinton is more than welcome to take direct action to make that Democratic turnout boost happen by investing resources into our state. I don’t expect anything like what she’s putting into states like Ohio or Florida, but very little happens in a vacuum. Investing in Texas would have the side benefit of helping to win a swing Congressional seat, make the Legislature a little less red, and maybe even soften things up a tad for 2018. It sure couldn’t hurt to start reminding all those black and Latino voters she hopes to energize that Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick are proudly supporting Donald Trump this year, and make them own all the odious things Trump is saying.

3. I’ll say again, it would be nice to see a general election poll or two of our state. Admittedly, with the Democratic primary still unsettled, results now would be of lesser value than they will be in another month or two. It would still be good to have some snapshot of where things stand today, if only to point to later when things have gotten real. Juanita and Paradise in Hell have more.

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  1. Jason says:

    Not going to happen.

  2. Tom says:

    The big problem right now is that if polls start showing a close race in Texas, that will probably have the effect of limiting the number of defections (either to the Libertarian or by voters staying home.)

    The only way it could happen is if Republicans get complacent because polls aren’t showing a close race — then voters may decide to vote Libertarian because they assume it won’t make a difference.

    An underrated side effect of a possible larger than usual Libertarian vote would be fewer voters pulling the straight-ticket lever, which might deprive Republicans further down the ballot. That could make a difference in Harris County for one.

  3. brad m says:


    It will take just a few points to make a significant impact in Harris County which teeters D/R depending on whether it is a presidential voting year or an off year election cycle.