Why Wendy Shouldn’t Run

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Harry Enten, a political columnist for the Guardian, has written a piece arguing that Democrats should forget about Wendy Davis and Texas, and instead reallocate the party’s resources to state’s where the Democrats’ chances of winning key races are much better. Here is Enten’s thesis:

The issue is that resources are always limited. Sure, there are mega donors who will donate to every candidate they can. There are also volunteers who will hit the ground in Texas. There are, however, plenty of donors who will pick and choose their campaigns. There are folks who might go down to Texas to help Davis, when they could be somewhere else.

The dollars and volunteers spent for Davis lessens the opportunity that they be spent in other places. That’s a problem for Democrats given that they have a real opportunity to make major gubernatorial gains in 2014.

Democrats are far better positioned to regain control of the governor’s mansions in FloridaMaineMichiganPennsylvania, and South Carolina. All these states have had at least one poll come out over the past year indicating that a Democrat led in the race for governor, which cannot be said about Texas.

By now, everyone who follows politics knows the case for why the Democrats should contest Texas. It is that if Democrats can turn Texas blue, the state’s rich harvest of 38 electoral votes gives the party a lock on the presidency. But the likelihood of a Democrat’s winning Texas is very low. Texas is a state where the half of the voters are white and evangelical. It doesn’t make sense for Democrats to go for the knockout punch in a state with those demographics. If they try, they’ll lose.

Enten argued this in July in another column:

The math of Texas over the next dozen years is rather simple. Latinos might not even be 35% of the voting-eligible population by 2024, even as they are a larger share of the voting age population. Remember, you have to be a citizen to be able to vote, and a decent number of Latinos in Texas are not citizens (yet). White non-Hispanics should maintain a majority of the vote.

That’s key because, while polling in Texas is limited, we can infer that whites in Texas vote a lot more like those from South Carolina than those in New York. Add on the fact that Texas Latinos are not as overwhelmingly Democratic as they are nationwide, thanks in part to good Republican outreach, and what you have in Texas is an absolute sinkhole for the Democratic party.

I’m inclined to agree with Enten. Texas is not winnable by Democrats at this point in its political evolution. Hispanics have not matured as a voting constituency. Many Hispanics are small-business owners who tend to be conservative and pro-military; that is, natural Republicans. Even if Texas were to turn blue, Democrats would have to fight to win a majority of the Hispanic vote. Remember, George W. Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote nationwide in 2004. It is conceivable that Greg Abbott might have a meltdown, as Republican Claytie Williams, the gaffe-prone Republican nominee did in his race against Ann Richards in 1994, but Abbott is no Claytie. The only winning strategy for Democrats today is to hope for suburban white women to be very active voters on women’s health issues. Even then, the number of entrants in a multicandidate primary is going to make it all but impossible for Davis to win a plurality.

AP Photo | LM Otero

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