A rising tide lifts all boats Ursula Faw
Beto O’Roarke has been on MSNBC several times in the last few days, and he’s been wriggling and bouncing around so much, I swear he must be wearing Depends. And why not? He sees the possibility of a lifelong dream coming true. For generations, the dream of flipping Texas blue, or even purpling it up some, has given Democrats nocturnal emissions.
Beto has good reason to be enthusiastic. Biden is within the margin of error against Trump, and former fighter jock M.J. Hegar is giving Jon Cornyn sleepless nights. Ted Cruz just gave an interview from isolation, in which he said that he was starting to envision a nightmare scenario where the GOP lost the House, the Senate, and the White House, a slaughter of almost Watergate proportions. O’Roarke almost glows when talking about the $6 million the Biden campaign just sank into Texas, noting it was $6 million more than any Democratic presidential candidate in the last 20 years. And he reminded all and sundry that a campaign doesn’t sink 6 giant into a state for charity purposes. Biden’s own campaign polling and intelligence shows an opening there.
All of that stuff is great, but that’s not what has Beto bouncing around the room like a kangaroo chewing on coca leaves. What has him turning somersaults in his chair is two things that he’s seeing and feeling on the ground, enthusiasm and activism.
Beto is quick to point out that since election day in 2018, more than 1.5 million new voters have been registered in Texas, minorities large among them. Also, this is the 10th year of redistricting, which can lead to wild fluctuation in voting habits due to a decade of population migration. Also, thousands of volunteers are already lined up to try to contact one million voters on Monday, to remind them that early in person voting starts on Tuesday, and to get out to vote. And this year, Texas expanded the number of early counting days for mail in ballots, making an election night decision likely.
But here’s the real reason for O’Rparke’s pride and enthusiasm. He is reporting incredible grassroots support and enthusiasm for down ballot state legislative offices. Texas has been a monolithic GOP controlled state government for what seems like forever. In 2018, the Texas GOP held a 21 seat total advantage in the Texas legislature. But in 2018, the Democrats cut that by more than half, flipping a clean dozen seats. Meaning there are 9 to go this year. And from what O’Roarke is seeing and hearing on the ground, the Democrats are hell bent for leather to finish the job this year. They have a slate of energetic and credible candidates, and enthusiasm among the base is sky high.
Which brings us to the rare political phenomenon I want you to watch for. You’ve often heard me speak of political coattails, where a popular national candidate such as President or Senator, drives up enthusiasm and turnout, helping the same party candidates lower on the ballot. Lately, I’ve been more likely to talk about in the context of how Trump has absolutely no coattails, he may as well be wearing a bus boy’s jacket.
But based on Beto’s observations and enthusiasm, what I’m now looking for in Texas is down ballot coattails, the exact reverse of the normal process. Look, Democrats have been trying to flip Texas for decades now, and if all the base had to be enthused about was the presidential and Senate polling, they may distrust the polls, and just stay home instead, giving up on the pipe dream.
But if what the base is jacked up to the roof about is trying to elect local state legislative candidates, and they see that the goal may be in reach, then they are goddamn well going to turn out to vote. That includes Democrats and independents who might not have showed up just to vote for Biden or Hager. But as long as they’re already there, turning their state around, what the hell? Might as well toss the big boys a cookie.
If what Beto O’Roarke is seeing and feeling on the ground in Texas is true, and base enthusiasm is sky high on flipping the legislature, and taking their state government back from Governor Greg Abbott, then if Texas turns blue on November 4rd, it won’t be because Biden, Harris, and Hager ran a brilliant campaign. They will have been carried across the finish line by the state legislative candidates, and the enthusiasm they inspired to get out the cote. But at this point, you know what? Whatever rubs your Buddha. Just get the job done. 24 days to go. Pedal to the metal boys and girls. GOTV!
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