BGTX and Anglo women voters

The San Antonio Current has a great story on what Battleground Texas is up to, and why more than just increasing turnout is needed to turn Texas blue.

Best Wendy Davis iconography yet

The Democrats can take Texas in 2016 if they can tap into one a key segment: white Texans, and in particular white women, the new kingmakers–or queenmakers–of Lone Star politics.

Why? Women of color broadly support Democratic candidates, but that’s just the point: BGTX needs to mine new veins of voters. At least at this stage, minority population trends alone will not lock up the race, since heavily Republican non-Hispanic whites will still hold a slim majority through the next presidential cycle. Even if Battleground succeeds in ramping up meager Hispanic voter turnout to white levels, a Republican candidate would likely still prevail in 2016.

“I think [Texas Battleground] realizes that it’s not just a matter of finding and turning out minority voters,” says Ruy Teixeira, co-author of the book The Emerging Democratic Majority and a senior fellow at Center for American Progress. “It’s also a matter of finding and turning out relatively liberal white voters, given the structure of the Texas electorate and given how conservatively white voters have been voting. The treasure trove would presumably be more likely to be college educated, more likely to be younger, and more likely to be women living in the big metropolitan areas.”


Utilizing 2008 Texas exit polls (not available for the state in 2012) crossed with U.S. Census Bureau voter turnout figures from 2012, and applying those ratios to a projection of the number of 2016 eligible voters by ethnicity as calculated by the Center for American Progress yields a Republican victory in in the next contest.

Even under an assumption that Battleground Texas successfully mobilizes target voters, elevating Hispanic and other minority turnout to levels achieved by whites last year (which is actually a slight decrease for African-Americans, the group posting the highest 2012 turnout rate), the state retains its crimson hue by a five-point 52-47 margin. However, given those same parameters, tweaking up Democratic support by white women from 28 percent (from 2008 exit polls) to, say, a lowly 35 percent, blues the result.

That’s why, in order to accelerate the demographic slide into blue territory, the Democrats will have to both peel off white support from the Republicans and mobilize whites who currently do not vote—in part because of the perception of futility of voting Dem in Texas. Fortunately for BGTX, the hard swerve to the right by the current Republican Party has left the political center wide open for recruitment of moderate white voters, all the more so for females incensed by the recent Republican-led restrictions on their reproductive rights.

Using 2008 data for 2016 likely understates things a bit for Team Blue, because we know from actual results at the State Rep district level plus eve of Election Day polling that Latinos voted for President Obama more heavily in 2012 than in 2008. Be that as it may, I agree with the general premise. Increasing Latino turnout is a key piece of the puzzle but it’s not the only piece. I’ve talked several times about the need for candidates with at least some crossover appeal in 2014, and in a Presidential year where Republican turnout is less of a variable, a Democratic Presidential candidate will just have to do better with Anglo voters than Obama has done.

I think that’s likely to happen regardless, at least to some extent, but as we have seen, Hillary Clinton would likely maximize that effect. Via TPM, Clinton is polling ten points better than Obama nationally among Anglo women. Translate that to Texas, add in the fact that there’s more room to grow, that Republicans have been doing a good job making the case against themselves, and the efforts of BGTX, and you can easily see the 2016 margin shrink further, perhaps to the point of tossup status. It will certainly be worthwhile to keep an eye on the polls, and where possible the crosstabs, to see how the data trends. PDiddie has more on this.

The other aspect of that story was to give some hard data on BGTX’s efforts so far:

Out of Austin, a lean BGTX managerial team recruits “fellows” who pledge a certain number of hours per week and attend a boot camp. Each fellow coordinates a team of regular volunteers back in their neighborhood. In the organization’s first four months, it recruited and trained over 2,500 deputy voter registrars across the state and 200 summer fellows all across Texas, with over a dozen in San Antonio. Following the OFA “snowflake” model, these volunteers participate in voter registration drives at events, through phone banks and by door-to-door canvassing. Voter registration is dual purpose: It elevates the number of registered voters, and information on the voter-registration card is harvested for a master database.

It’s too early to know what kind of impact the fieldwork is having, but voter registration is climbing steeply. More than 800,000 new Texas voters registered in the eight-month period stretching from the last presidential elections through the end of June, a whopping 64-percent increase from the comparable period after the previous vote, according to data from the Texas Secretary of State.

On the cyber side, BGTX works the same digital formula developed for the Obama 2012 campaign: sophisticated data mining techniques, micro-targeting strategies and massive usage of social media and email. Facebook landing pages, Tweet barrages and a steady stream of finely tuned email messages sweep up new volunteers and, especially, sponge up donations. In the first four months of operation, the BGTX Web page had rung up more than $1 million via donations, or 96 percent of the total take of $1.1 million. Seventy-nine percent of donations came from inside Texas and the median donation size of more than 3,500 payments was $25.

The voter registration numbers are exciting. There isn’t any updated information on the SOS webpage – we should see new figures for this November’s election – but note that while registrations increased by almost 500,000 from November 2004 to November 2008, they barely increased at all from November 2008 to November 2012. I’m sure that had at least something to do with Obama’s slight performance decrease from one election to the other. Let’s definitely keep an eye on this, and let’s all do our part to help BGTX keep it up.

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7 Responses to BGTX and Anglo women voters

  1. Pingback: Off the Kuff: BGTX and Anglo women voters

  2. Gary says:

    For all our talk about the Republicans’ hurting women, there represents a large reservoir of right-wing white women in Texas. The real question is how the Jodi Lautenberg women compare in numbers to Wendy Davis women. I suspect she already peels off a fair number, which is how she has come to survive in her district two outrageous gerrymanders against her — no matter how they manipulate the boundaries, they cannot shut out women in their attempts to defeat her! But whether that can translate to the statewide level remains to be seen.

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  4. Gary puts it well, especially when coupled with the Observer piece about sexism at the Lege and how GOP women in the Senate pull a Claytie Williams and just lay there and enjoy it. Peeling off Anglo suburbanite women won’t be totally easy.

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