To be a liberal in Texas (especially in the suburbs) can be dispiriting. There is not a single democrat elected for statewide office. For example, in TX-22 congressional district (where I live), Republicans traditionally have enjoyed a 2-1 advantage in voting compared to democrats, and that sort of advantage is fairly common across Texas. For many positions, there are not even qualified democratic candidates on the ballot. Well, that was the recent past.
I volunteered today to block-walk canvassing for Wendy Davis, who is running for the governor of Texas. It was an interesting experience. A couple of things were worth noting.
1) I walked in and a gentleman gave me instructions about canvassing. I walked out with a detailed map of potential democratic voters, and when I returned three hours later, the data was tabulated, and uploaded to a server. This operation was run by “Battleground Texas”, and the level of sophistication was something that I have never seen before in Texas.
2) While the volunteers were quite enthusiastic, it remains to be seen, if these efforts translate to votes.
Based on the early voting results so far (from the top 15 counties), it looks like 2014 early voting trends are very similar to the most recent mid-term election (2010). Five days into early voting, four of the top five most populated counties, (Harris, Dallas, Bexar, Travis) all show an early voting trend that is very similar to 2010. However, newspaper reports suggest that early voting is up in Tarrant, and Hidalgo counties, compared to four years ago.
|Graph generated with data from Texas Secretary of State's website.|
In 2010, Rick Perry got about 20% of the registered voters to beat the democratic challenger Bill White who got 15% of the registered voters. Compared to four years ago, Wendy Davis has run a more visible campaign, and definitely has a better ground operation.
Whether all these factors are sufficient to put Wendy Davis in the governor’s office remains to be seen. In any event, the increasing organizational capacity of the democrats, and the changing demographics of Texas, should concern the Republicans.
Less than 40% of the registered voters cast a ballot in 2010. Even if a small percentage of the unlikely voters turn up to vote democratic in this election, it might make for an interesting night on November.