If you caught a football game this weekend, you probably saw all the proof you need that Texas is the biggest battleground state. The air wars across Texas have intensified as election day draws near, outpacing anything Texas voters have seen in generations. Unlike 2018, when most of the advertising flowed to the U.S. Senate race between Beto O’Rourke and Calgary man Ted Cruz, what voters have been seeing is quite unique.
There were the ads for Biden, and a lot of them, which in itself is a welcome change for Texas Democrats who have been shut out of the Electoral College shell game for decades. But there were also ads for MJ Hegar in the U.S. Senate race, congressional challengers up and down the ballot, and even State House races.
That’s right. Democrats are up on the air in legislative districts. When I first moved to Texas and helped recruit and advise candidates in State House races for the Texas Democratic Party, getting a legislative candidate up on TV in 2014 was a pipe dream.
This is 2020, and Texas Democrats don’t have to dream anymore.
After one week of early voting, Texas leads the nation in turnout.
Yes, Texas leads the nation in turnout, which in itself was unthinkable even four years ago, when we graced the bottom of the turnout list with just north of 50 percent. We’ve often said Texas isn’t a red state, it’s a non-voting state, and thus far Texas voters are doing their damnedest to make that a thing of the past. That spells trouble for Texas Republicans, who have struggled to expand their electoral footprint for several cycles.
This isn’t new information. Ed Espinoza, executive director of Progress Texas, showed me the first version of this graph in 2017. The outlook hasn’t gotten any better for the Texas GOP.
Put it all together, and you get the perfect storm for Joe Biden and Texas Democrats. Biden is either within the margin or in the lead in most recent high-quality Texas polling. The same is true for well over a dozen state house candidates across the state.
The situation is so dire, Governor Gregg Abbott decided to crack open his piggy bank and is attempting to spread millions of dollars across the state in what may be a foolhardy attempt to save the Republican House majority and shore up Republicans in endangered judicial seats.
Abbott’s bet comes with just two weeks left to election day, and at a point when over four million votes have already been cast. It may be too little, too late, but many Lege observers have told us the investment may not even be designed with 2020 in mind. Abbott is bracing for a potentially brutal primary challenge in 2022, and the theory is he’s just desperately trying to at least save face, and at best, bank a few favors from lawmakers who may manage to get re-elected.
It’s a strategy as cynical as Abbott’s COVID-19 response and the anti-reform “tough on crime” propaganda campaign he’s been waging, but one that isn’t surprising for a governor who has seen his approval ratings slide from the low 60s to the mid 30s amidst the pandemic.
As Biden and Texas Democrats continue a dead sprint to push our 38 electoral votes into the blue column and send MJ Hegar and a host of congressional Democrats to Washington, it’s nothing short of desperation from Abbott and the Texas GOP.
Joe Biden can win Texas. Texas Democrats can win races up and down the ballot.
It’s our time, Texas.
If you haven’t voted yet, get out there and do it. Go to MyTexasVotes.com for all the details you need.
Joe brings over a decade of experience as a political operative and creative strategist to Texas Signal, where he serves as our Senior Advisor and does everything from writing a regular column, Musings, to mentoring our staff and freelancers. Joe was campaign manager for Lina Hidalgo's historic 2018 victory for Harris County Judge and is a passionate sneakerhead.