2020 opportunities and challenges for Texas Democrats

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It’s going to be an extremely busy year with political news in Texas. Here are some of the dynamics we’ll be looking at ahead of Election Day in November.

1. Democrats are serious contenders. 

It’s been a fait accompli since the early ‘90s that Texas Republicans have cleaned Democrats’ clock, winning everything: presidency, U.S. Senate and House, and state legislative races. That’s no more. As a new battleground state, no one knows how this year’s elections will end. The element of electoral suspense and real competition is back. Like they did in 2018, Democrats are putting forth a bench of richly diverse, talented, and disciplined candidates. National Dems are flooding the state with money, a requirement of winning in a state so massive.

2. It’s Trump or bust.

Texans don’t love Trump but Republicans in Congress from the state have embraced him. In Senator John Cornyn’s case, it’s more like bent over backwards to kiss Trump’s ass, publicly begging for his endorsement. 

Speaking of Trump, how often the president visits Texas is any indication of what his team thinks of the landscape here for him. Will he (or his family as surrogates) make another 8 trips to Texas? His public poll numbers don’t go up after each visit. We’ll have to see how the impeachment trial in the Senate, and the sheer awe of his recklessness in Iran (the U.S. could go to war…alone), play out and the impact, if any, on Trump’s re-election.

3. Not news: GOP finds governing difficult. 

They have abjectly failed on health care — their Achilles’ heel — by not protecting pre-existing medical conditions and lowering drug costs.  Greg Abbott and the Legislature refused to expand Medicaid, which would cover more than a million uninsured Texans. Through inaction, they’re complacent with poor public schools. The property taxes they say they reformed haven’t been. They’re increasingly fighting amongst themselves. And corruption, if you haven’t noticed, has creeped back into their party, joining a mean-spiritedness that’s been there for years. 

4. Women hold the power.

So many Democratic women are running this cycle at a time when the women’s vote in Texas will be key to a progressive victories up and down the ballot. 2018 was the “year of the woman” nationally and in state. 40% of women who ran for office in Texas that year won. It will be hysterical when all two women for Trump in Texas hold another event — if the group is still around by then.

5. Claims of ‘voter fraud’ are fraudulent. 

Based on the attempted voter purge of nearly 100,000 voters last year in Texas, it wouldn’t surprise us if we see more attempts to suppress the vote. Gov. Abbott and others will scream about nonexistent voter fraud to justify their actions. The mainstream media has to call them out on this Lie of the Last Decade. Enough is enough. 

6. Sadly, mass shootings will continue. 

It gives us no pleasure to include this on the list but high-profile killers have become commonplace in Texas. And, following the El Paso and Odessa mass shootings, the GOP didn’t call a special session to debate gun safety measures. So, as more violence unfolds in the state and is broadcast nationally, we anticipate the narrative that Republicans aren’t serious about the safety and security of Texans to harden. 

7. Social issues at U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to take up key cases on LGBT equality, abortion, and immigration. The decisions are sure to provide grist to hyper-partisans on both sides, but depending on the rulings from the conservative court, progressives may be more pissed. That’s additional fuel for turnout in the fall. But hey, maybe we’ll be surprised by one of the Court’s rulings. 

8. Disinformation will dog Democrats.

Disinformation will play a starring role in this year’s elections, whether from the Russians (it’s already happened in Texas), the GOP, the conservative media, or some other yet-to-be-exposed actor. As we know, Facebook is allowing made-up information on its organic and paid platforms and that, so far, redounds to the GOP’s benefit. See Biden, Joe. (The Signal will be surveilling for pernicious disinformation campaigns, both organic and paid.) Whoever wins the information war online maximizes his or her chances of victory in November. 

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