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The Aftermath

Trump stole the show, but the election did provide some hope for beleaguered Texas Democrats.

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Donald Trump won Texas, but the election proved there's still a silver lining for Texas dems.
Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

It’s been a week since Donald Trump’s stunning victory, and the shock hasn’t really worn off. Nor is there any more certainty about what kind of president Trump will be. Given Trump’s lack of a core ideology and his shifting positions, it’s impossible to confidently predict how he will attempt to govern. Some pundits are predicting that Trump will be fairly successful, and others fear a descent into fascism. At this point, either scenario seems plausible.

As for how Trump authored perhaps the greatest election upset in American history, I don’t have much to add to the explanations offered in seemingly every corner of the Internet. It was a relatively low-turnout election: About 57 percent of eligible voters came to the polls this year, a drop from 58.6 percent in 2012 and 61.6 in 2008. Though Hillary Clinton, as of this writing, won the popular vote by about 800,000, Trump won an Electoral College majority with a surge in support from white rural voters that—combined with key parts of the Obama coalition not showing up for Clinton (she received about five million fewer votes than Obama did in 2012)—secured narrow victories in a handful of critical swing states. As The Hill reported on Tuesday, Clinton over-performed Obama in urban areas in Florida and Pennsylvania, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Trump’s enormous vote totals in rural areas.

Closer to home, the election results were far less surprising. Texas went for Trump by nine points, a narrower margin than Republicans had enjoyed in previous presidential elections, which Erica Grieder predicted months ago. Texas remains a reliably Republican state, but there are some positive signs for Texas Democrats, particularly in the Houston area.

If Democrats are ever going to be competitive again statewide, they first need to dominate in Harris County. It’s the same model Democrats have used to make other states competitive: Pile up large enough margins in the biggest urban areas to match or outnumber GOP voters in rural and suburban areas.

Harris County is the largest county in Texas—bigger than a few dozen states—and its population is more than two-thirds minority, a demographic makeup that should favor Democrats. And yet Democrats have struggled to win Harris County in recent cycles. Greg Abbott carried it by four points in the 2014 governor’s race, and Mitt Romney essentially tied Obama there in 2012. The reason is that turnout among Latino voters, who you’d expect to lean Democratic, has been anemic.

But this year, Harris County shifted heavily toward the Democrats, with Clinton winning it by 161,000 votes. That’s the makings of the kind of winning margin Democrats will eventually need to be competitive in Texas. She also won Fort Bend County, a one-time Republican stronghold that’s quickly changing. Those victories in the Houston area, combined with other urban areas of the state, should give Texas Democrats some hope for the future.

Trump won Texas by about 800,000 votes. Let’s say Democrats could run up a margin in Harris County of 400,000. That spread, combined with slightly higher numbers from San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin, could result in a close statewide race, at least in a presidential year.

A 400,000-vote margin may sound like a lot, but there is still ample room for Democratic growth in Houston. Harris County has 3.3 million eligible voters, and only 39 percent of them turned out.

So the good news for Democrats is that the potential is there, especially with the Houston population continuing to increase. The good news for Republicans is that even with a figure as controversial as Trump on the ballot, eligible turnout in Harris County was only 39 percent. Registering new voters in Houston and getting them into voting booths won’t be easy for Democrats, especially since the party has failed miserably with its ground game in recent decades.

But the bottom line is this: We saw the stirrings on Election Day of a potential shift in Texas politics. Democrats have an opportunity to become competitive again. The question now is can they take advantage of it.

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  • dave in texas

    Disqus is only posting part of my comment, so I’m going to try again.

  • roadgeek

    I was scorned and laughed at for my defense of Trump and my prediction of a victory.. Well, the rest of you, or most of you, can tell me how your corvus tastes; I’m enjoying a McRib, which is back for a limited time only.

    • BCinBCS

      Gee Roadgeek, we’re still laughing at your support of Trump and it will increase to a rolling roar as his presidency goes along and his true nature is revealed.

      • Jed

        if you’re laughing, you’re the only one.

        i’ve been crying for a week.

        • BCinBCS

          Jed, there are five stage of grief. I, like you, went through the first stage, denial, last week as I, too, denied and cried. I am now at the second stage, anger, and I have absolutely no intention of moving onward to bargaining, depression and acceptance. I will stay angry and I will continue to angrily laugh at the folly of Trump and his supporters.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Socks up! What is it
            with all these crying Texans? Is it because you’ve never weathered a Rust Belt winter?:)

          • Shelly H.

            I skipped over or went through the first stage early on election night – the next morning I was furious. I’m still angry, I just no longer wish to do physical harm to those I know personally who voted for the orange twit.

        • SpiritofPearl

          Geez! Don’t cry. Organize. This is war.

          • BCinBCS

            As I stated, Pearl, I’m beyond the crying. I have my war-paint on.

          • Jed

            what, march up and down bridges, block traffic, get on TV as being sore losers, embolden the trumpistas, and yell loudly while the nation and world reaps its own inhumanity?

            did i miss any likely outcomes of “organizing?”

          • SpiritofPearl

            Satyagraha, my friend. Look it up.

  • dave in texas

    That spread, combined with slightly higher numbers from San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin, could result in a close statewide race, at least in a presidential year.

    The problem with that is that elections for statewide office happen in nonpresidential years. Turning over the occasional House or Senate seat isn’t going to make much difference.

    Until Democratic voters, especially the younger ones, can be bothered to get out and vote, this is what we’re going to get.

    • Dave Mann

      Agreed. Texas Democrats face even steeper challenges in midterm years. I don’t have much confidence —given its track record—that the Texas Democratic party will turn out enough voters to be competitive. But this year’s results showed the potential is there.

    • Unwound

      thats not going to happen until dems start fielding candidates who appeal to younger voters. clinton was a nogo from the beginning. a bad candidate running a bad campaign.

      i dont think theres a lot of chance in texas, but maybe some, for 2018. a lot of its going to depend on how bad the trump admin is, and how the dems salvage things. if they dont learn any lessons (which judging from comments from clinton officials, they havent) then theyre gonna get screwed.

  • roadgeek

    I was also told that a wave of Latinos were going to sweep Hillary into office. Told as well that Texas would turn purple. Well, Fort Bend County does not a state make, and, again, the Latinos stayed home, although more turned out to vote for Trump than anyone expected. (29%)

  • roadgeek

    And where’s Erica? Still hasn’t come out of her safe space? Still in shock?

    • Unwound

      no longer with TM

      • dave in texas

        Really? What happened?

        • WUSRPH

          She quit the day before the election.

          • dave in texas

            Wow. OK.

          • roadgeek

            Hope she lands on her feet and is happy and healthy in her new position.

        • Unwound

          not sure. thats a question for her.

        • SpiritofPearl

          Read her Twitter feed,

          • dave in texas

            I effing hate Twitter. It’s like a trying to pick a particular cup of water out of a damned fire hose. I just spent the better part of an hour on her feed and still can’t figure out what happened beyond something about avoiding abuse.

          • BCinBCS

            I had the same experience trying to read her Twitter feed.
            I wish that she would write a good-bye post and let us know what happened and how things are progressing for her.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Discipline yourself.

        • Texas Publius

          On Nov 8 she tweeted..

          “Good morning, Texans! Go vote. I’ll just be here blocking men who are dismayed by my failings”

          “I hope the governor’s [Abbott] similarly proud when men abuse his daughter. As they will. (Same to you, @tedcruz)”

          ..and accused Senator Kelly Hancock of trying to have her arrested months earlier, which he responded like WTF?! no i did not!!

          As well as a host of bizarre tweets railing on the male gender.

          I suspect this type of behavior had something to do with it…

          • dave in texas

            Hmm. OK, thanks.

      • jadedhaven

        That’s a damn shame. She’s smart, feisty and knows Texas politics inside and out.

        I’m sincerely going to miss her posts. They were all good.

  • WUSRPH

    Your comments were more than amplified by a panel of conservative Republicans last night at the LBJ Library’s Future Forum, all of whom said that the results in Texas should be a warning to the GOP. They, like you, were particularly concerned by he fact that the GOP lost–and by good margins–every major urban area other than Tarrant County and by the increase in Hispanic turnout. But, as you noted, the Democrats still need to find ways to turnout their vote in non-presidential years and have a lot of rebuilding work to do at the local levels. However, Texas Republicans should certainly be concerned by the fact that Trump did better in the swing-state of Ohio than he did in Solid Red Texas. Demographic changes will make that even more of a problem in the future.
    When one talks about %ages like roadgeek did in bragging about the GOP %age of the Hispanic vote you should always note that the important question is %age of WHAT? Hispanic turnout had a lot to do with the fact that the Democrats did better than they had in many years….plus the fact that the GOP %age of their vote was substantially down from recent years. The GOP–as the Hispanic Republican last night stressed–is in danger of Texas Republicans suffering the same fate as their counterparts in California who insulted that voting group enough to result in the GOP, which once had power in that state, consistently losing the state.
    PS. Glad to you your post. I only hope it means that TM has not lost interest in the Burkablog.

  • SpiritofPearl

    Geek

    • BCinBCS

      Way to tell it Pearl.
      Bravo.

      • SpiritofPearl

        Thanks B.

  • WUSRPH

    It looks like Orin Hatch has killed the idea of abandoning a major check-and-balance with the goal of smoothing the way for the Trump agenda. Hatch announced that he would strongly oppose the idea of taking the right to filibuster away from members of the Senate so that it would be easier to run over opposition to any of Trump’s and the GOP’s plans. He said it was essential to preserve the right of the minority to use the existing system to defend its position. The GOP used the filibuster or a threat to filibuster to block numerous actions by Democrats in recent years, but some wanted to abandon it now that Obama would no longer be in office. This is just one of many checks-and-balances that Trump will have to deal with—something that he is certainly not going to like.

    • José

      Hatch has his principles, give him that. I believe that Sen. Collins (R-ME) also stands firmly in favor of the filibuster tradition. Looking back it was a wise decision by Reid to make a big point of keeping filibusters for SCOTUS appointments. Check back in a decade or two.

  • WUSRPH

    Question: If by some miracle Ted Cruz gets a post in the Trump Administration, who do you think Gov. Abbott would appoint to fill the vacancy pending a special election to fill the rest of Cruz’s term?

    • Dave Mann

      U.S. Sen. Dan Patrick, come on down!

      • Unwound

        im kinda hoping sid gets it myself

        • WUSRPH

          It would almost be worth it to get rid of either one of them, preferably both. As a US Senator Patrick could do less damage to the State of Texas than he can as Lt. Governor.
          As to Sid, he cannot really hurt anything—although sending him to Washington as say Sec. of Agriculture would probably just embarrass Texas even more than he does now,

        • SpiritofPearl

          A pig in a Stetson,

      • Shelly H.

        Then we all hope he gets defeated in the special election. Either way it would be a win for Texas.

    • Texas Publius

      Abbott would appoint Michael McCaul before Dan Patrick, but I would much rather get Dan Patrick out of Texas and let him go be Cruz’s successor as the guy with the bullhorn who breaks china in DC.

    • Bandara Carlos

      No doubt it would be Satan

  • WUSRPH

    There has been a bit of talking and speculating here about what the GOP will do to the ACA recently but one provision we have not mentioned is the provision in the ACA that says that insurance companies cannot charge us old folks, who use medical care more often, more than twice the amount the charge healthier younger folks. Now it appears that some GOPers are talking about raising the limit to five times what is charged the younger folks in order to lower the total cost of their ACA “replacement”. Just what the TRUMP voters demanded–less coverage at a higher cost. Of course, those already on Medicare will think they are exempt from this increase, but don’t forget that Paul Ryan has already proposed junking Medicare and replacing it with some sort of private insurance. The change is not supposed to apply to the folks already on the program… ut there are still a loot of boomer generation members would be affected,

  • BCinBCS

    I have been doing a lot of reading about why Donald Trump won the election. I have discovered that there are about a half of a dozen prominent reasons that are the most popular. One of these has me confused and I hope that JJ or some of the other conservatives who post or lurk here at BB can help me understand it.

    Quite a number of people are stating that they voted for Trump rather than Hillary because they are tired of the political correctness of the left. They resent having their ideas and actions labeled as racist, bigoted, denier, misogynist, or other stigmatizations. This labeling of them by Hillary and the left is one of the reasons that they did not vote for her.

    What I cannot understand is that if they find these characterizations of their attitudes and actions as offensive, why don’t they change their attitudes and actions. Instead of making a change, they vote for someone who thinks and acts like them in a direct rebuttal of the other candidate and her supporters who believes these thing are wrong. Do they think that electing a president who is anti-pc, who is a racist, a bigot, a denier or a misogynist makes them correct? Would they be as proud or at least as comfortable with the label of murderer or rapist which, except for degree, is no different? Can anyone explain this to me?

    • donuthin2

      They are all those things without even the ability to seriously ask themselves the question. It is not so overt with many of them, but it is part of their subconscious and they don’t even self assess enough to get it.

  • Kozmo

    I object to the tenor of this post that implies voters are cowering pawns waiting to see what “they” are going to do. Citizens need to stop feeling helpless that “fascism” is something that might be imposed on them. Stop shrugging shoulders, stop denying responsibility, stop walking around with blinders and a zombie attitude. WE have the power to make anything we want here. If we want or surrender to fascism, then fascism we shall have. But it isn’t going to drop from the sky and we aren’t mere bystanders and if it comes it will be thanks to citizens abdicating their rights.

  • WUSRPH

    If Rick gets the Energy Dept. it would probably mean no cabinet job for any other Texan. This means we would be stuck with Cruz and Sid.

  • Bandara Carlos

    Breaking News: You Won’t Hear on Fox News. THIS IS NOT FAKE NEWS!

    CIA Confirms Russia Deliberately Interfered and the 2016 Elections on
    Donald Trump’s Behalf. CIA Confirmed the Wikileaks Received the
    Information from Russian Government,.and Members of Donald Trump
    Senior Campaign Staff Implicated. More Troubling CIA along with Other
    Security Agencies Brief Top Congressional Representatives (Gang of
    12) in a Secret Meeting in September 2016, All Democrats Proposed
    That America Should Know, Most Not All Republicans Wanted to Suppress
    the Information from the Public. Notably Mitch McConnell Was Adamant
    of Not Releasing the Information. Mr. McConnell Is Now Received the
    Top Presidential Staff Job, Definite Conflict of Interest

    This Is Not a Democratic or Republican Issue, Everyone Should Be Concerned
    about a Foreign Government Actively Trying to Swing the Outcome of
    Our Elections, and Is Most Troubling about the Corporation of
    American Citizens in This Treasonous Acts

  • donuthin2

    Science? Who needs it as long as we have good fortune tellers around who will help.