How can Beto win?

This is from the weekly newsletter put out by G. Elliott Morris:

Let’s talk about voter turnout in Texas. The statewide voting-agedpopulation is a mixed bag, made up of 45% White, 37% Hispanic, 11% Black, and 6% Asian/other residents, according to projections from the Center for American Progress. On its face, the majority-minority status of the state indicates that Democrats, who have an edge among non-white voters, would prosper in the state. Obviously, that’s not the case. This is because the actual electorate is much redder, made up of 61% White, 21% Hispanic, 13% Black, and 5% Asian voters according again to the CAP. Notably, the share of white voters was down 2% in 2016 compared to 2012.

Okay, Texas voters are Whiter than the state as a whole. So what? Well, this also means that the electorate is more Republican than the state as a whole. Let’s run a scenario: what if all voting-aged Texans voted, and voted the same way for Rs and Ds that they did in 2016? A table:

You can see that I’ve decreased the share of the electorate that is White from roughly 61% to 45% and nearly doubled the share of Hispanic voters (column comp.2016). In the highlighted yellow boxes are the findings: If all voting-aged Texas voted with the same partisan leanings as the state’s electorate alone in 2016, Donald Trump would have won the state by just 0.1 percentage points. That’s as close as his margin in Wisconsin. Texas would be a true swing state.

In 2018, this means that Senator Ted Cruz — who enjoyed a hypothesized 8 percentage point incumbency advantage — would be running roughly even with Rep. Beto O’Rourke, even in the current national environment where Democrats are beating Republicans by roughly 8 percentage points in the national environment.

But everyone doesn’t vote. Instead, demographics are partially destiny in determining outcomes in state elections. For the sake of the game, let’s run a proposed 2018 election where demographics look more like the 2016 electorate than the 2016 “all voters” scenario — because we have no evidence to believe that Hispanic turnout in the state is about to increase by roughly 75 percent — but decrease the share of non-college White turnout (college-educated voters are more engaged in midterm elections, but so are whites.)

For O’Rourke to run even with Cruz in November, college-educated Whites would need to make up about 33% of the electorate, non-college Whites 29%, Hispanics 21%, Black voters 13%, Asian/others 5%. This is not totally out of the questions, but you can see why I’m cautious about being bullish on Beto. Of course, these numbers are dynamic: if the partisan lean of the electorate shifts left, then the share of white voters that Cruz needs to win increases, etc.

Morris gives Beto a 32% chance of winning. This is a way of quantifying the old adage about Texas being not a Republican state but a non-voting state. I think it’s fair to say that this year is a test of that. If you want to see more of Morris’ newsletter or sign up to receive it yourself, go here.

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18 Responses to How can Beto win?

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    One thing not in your equation is that white women, in particular college educated women, are trending Democratic. Many of them may have gone with Trump or not voted last election, but they are showing up in state after state.

    The white group needs to broken up into two categories.

    I would post a link, but early in the morning it means that comment may not post.

  2. Greg Wythe says:

    The most glaring error here: VAP ≠ CVAP (

    The second most glaring error is that nobody in this state has seriously attempted to make a non-Pres electorate resemble a Pres-year electorate. Enthusiasm gap will make up for some of that, but nowhere near enough.

    I do think Beto is making some headway into converting some Republicans, but there are only so many places in the state where that’s likely to pay off.

  3. Manny Barrera says:

    Greg it is not about converting Republicans it is converting Independents (people don’t vote in primaries) that normally vote for the Republicans in the General Election.

    The other is to get those people that tend to vote for Democrats during presidential years, to come out vote this year. Identifying them is the hard part, but one can look at pct by pct data and least narrow down to certain areas.

  4. Mainstream says:

    The most recent data I could locate from Nov. 2016 indicates that non-Hispanic whites are 53.1% of the citizen population of Texas, Hispanic citizens are 28.6%, blacks are 13.3% and Asians are 3.6%. When you take into account the age profile of Hispanics, which skews much younger than other groups and includes a lot of folks too young to vote, the composition of the electorate fairly closely matches these data.

  5. Mainstream says:

    Correction, those data are for adults.

  6. Flypusher says:

    Texas is a non-voting state, and going hard for the non-voters and the the newly minted voters is essential. Beto has the right idea and hopefully this is the year it gets pulled off.

  7. asmith says:

    Flypusher and Manny are on it. Not sure if it’s a one off or a realignment but the older suburbs and maybe older parts of suburban counties will at least split their ticket and vote for a couple of Ds this year. I think college educated whites will surpass 33%.

    For 35 years the middle-manager, professional types who transplanted here from the midwest, northeast or Cali were rock ribbed GOP types moving to the plano, the woodlands, round rock, sugar land, or southlake. I think the newly minted are for more persuasive, plus the hispanic voting age pop grows every cycle.

  8. C.L. says:

    How can Beto win ? Concerned citizens – Dems, GOP’ers, Independents, demographics be damned – fed up with the shenanigans and scandals associated with this Congress and White House, elect to vote a straight Democrat ticket in November. Pretty simple stuff.

  9. N.M. Horwitz says:

    32 seems…high.

  10. Bill Daniels says:

    Team Beto seems to think the secret to winning is getting rid of American flags, like the flags at the Navasota VFW hall he rented earlier this week.

    “According to VFW Post #4006 Commander Carl Dry, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is not a political organization and the rental agreement with the O’Rourke campaign was part of the standard rental contract for any event.

    “I do not normally attend rental events, but I attended Saturday to make sure things ran smoothly,” said Dry, who noted there were only two requests he could not allow at the VFW Post. “They wanted to open the doors (to the Flight Deck Lounge) and I couldn’t allow that and they wanted to take the flags down, I didn’t only say no, I said hell no, you don’t take the flags off the wall. I can’t believe any American would ask us to do that and I don’t know why he wanted them down or what he was going to put up instead.””

  11. Manny Barrera says:

    The man that said what you quote was paid by the Cruz campaign to lie, you know that right Bill?

  12. Flypusher says:

    That’s the worst thing you could come up with Bill?? (Even presuming it’s true). Cruz supports an administration that’s stripping passports from veterans, but something like this is supposed to worse? Ye Gods, you people are getting desperate.

  13. Bill Daniels says:


    LOL! Muh whataboutism.


    Finally you admit there is fake news. It is interesting that a small town Texas paper is at the forefront of it, though..
    .interesting. I guess the racist New York Times has company now.

  14. Manny Barrera says:

    Of course there is fake news, Fox and all those pieces of crap that pass themselves of as newspapers. Beto being there is probably the biggest thing that ever happened to that area.

  15. Flypusher says:

    I didn’t whatabout you Bill, I RAISED you, with something far, far worse, and of course you can’t cover.

    As for the claim about the flag, it’s currently unproven.

  16. Jules says:

    The flag story raises a lot of questions.

    What is the Flight Deck Lounge and why does a request to open the doors not rate a “hell no”?

    Why did Dry want to make sure things ran smoothly for Beto and no one else? Who usually handles these duties? If Cruz rented the hall, would Dry ensure things ran smoothly?

    What other things can’t Dry believe an American would ask him to do?

    Googling Beto, it is easy to find pictures of him by both Anerican and Texas flags. What flags were in question?

    Until 2014, Cruz was a Canadian citizen, a country I have heard has treated us very unfairly in trade, and where he was born. Beto was born in Texas, which in the USA.

  17. Bill Daniels says:


    My educated guess is, there are state liquor laws that prevent the VFW’s bar doors from being opened during such an event.

    As to Dry, he’s not only a veteran, but one his fellow vets felt deserved the respect and honor of naming to be the overseer of their VFW chapter. McCain’s fellow vets nicknamed him ‘Songbird.’ Dry’s fellow vets elected him to oversee their VFW chapter. If you want to defame Dry and question his objectivity, that’s up to you. Why did he want to oversee the O’Roarke event? Maybe he recognizes that Dem gatherings have a high propensity for violence…..Occupy Wall St., Antifa, Disrupt J-20, statue protests, even the Kavanaugh hearings.

    As far as Beto vs. Ted, it seems pretty clear…..straight white males are a problem, THE problem with the United States, and more generally, with the West. This is WHY we need more women and people of color as our leaders, because white men are inherently bad.

    I’m voting for the Hispanic over the white not only to virtue signal that I am not racist, but because I recognize white males are the problem. Smash the patriarchy!

    Where is your commitment to diversity, Jules?

  18. Flypusher says:

    “As to Dry, he’s not only a veteran, but one his fellow vets felt deserved the respect and honor of naming to be the overseer of their VFW chapter. McCain’s fellow vets nicknamed him ‘Songbird.’

    Bullshit. That’s been debunked over and over again:

    I had political differences with McCain, but I always respected him for what he went through as a POW. You would piss on his grave because he wouldn’t kiss Trump’s ass. You ought to be ashamed of this (and the other lies you posted), but we all know having no shame is a prerequisite for living in TrumpLand. A pity that you can’t suffer the consequences in the manner that that former Fox News professional liar did.

    Dry’s fellow vets elected him to oversee their VFW chapter. If you want to defame Dry and question his objectivity, that’s up to you. “

    Cut the crap Bill. The point of contention is WHO said “remove the flags”. Beto’s staff say that it wasn’t one of their people. Dry has said that the requests were from unidentified people. He’s even quoted as saying “Things have a tendency to get blown out context.”

    What would Beto have to gain from removing flag? More cred with the left? He’s already got the left solidly on his side, for much more substantive reasons like supporting universal health care. To troll the other side? That goes totally against every thing he’s done on the campaign trail. You desperately hope to use that answer about kneeling NFL players against him. Anyone who isn’t a Trump-cultist/partisan hack saw a thoughtful and RESPECTFUL answer. Another Beto anecdote from an online conversation:

    “A pro-gun rights voter asked a question about Beto’s views on gun ownership – the crowd booed – and Beto got on the crowd’s case, making it clear that this was a good question that deserved a good answer. Beto made it clear that the constitution did give Americans the right to own guns, but, it also allowed for reasonable regulation, such as universal background checks. Now, I disagree, but, Beto was able to calm a rowdy crowd, and deliver a respectful, and honest answer.”

    This is said to have happened at a rally at in San Antonio. I wasn’t there, but probably someone has footage. But it’s part of a consistent pattern- Beto will talk to you even if you don’t agree with him, and he’ll give you an honest and respectful answer. Why blow all that to allegedly remove a flag? But there’s a much more likely answer- some Trumper-troll impersonating one of Beto’s staff, like that person who sent out a few bogus text messages. Why do they do it? So dishonest people like you have material for shit-posting on people’s blogs.


    “Why did he want to oversee the O’Roarke event? Maybe he recognizes that Dem gatherings have a high propensity for violence…..Occupy Wall St., Antifa, Disrupt J-20, statue protests, even the Kavanaugh hearings.”

    What a damned liar you are Bill. Beto has held HUNDREDS of events, all over Texas, for more than a year now. Name ONE where any violence broke out, or STFU with your defamation.

    Also antifa and the Dems mutually admit that they don’t have anything to do with each other. Occupy and the statue protests may be left-wing, but again not officially affiliated with the Dems. All that happen at the Kavanaugh hearing was some shouting- are you such a delicate little snowflake that that looks like violence to you?

    As for diversity in candidates, to point isn’t that any one group is evil, but rather to expand the pool of choices for the voters. The more choices, the better chance of a real gem. In this case, the gem happens to be the White male, so that’s who I’m voting for. I’m voting for Sri Kulkarni over Olson, because he’s the better person, not because he’s mixed-race.

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