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The Democratic Machine Seeks to Capture Texas

Written by DTN

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This past Tuesday, a key Obama campaign operative launched Battleground Texas, a group that seeks to transform the Battleground Texastraditionally Republican Lone Star State into a Democratic stronghold, and thereby make it impossible for Republicans to ever again win a presidential election.

Launched on February 26, 2013, Battleground Texas (BT) seeks to transform the traditionally Republican Lone Star State into a Democratic stronghold.[1] At its inception, BT pledged that over the next several years it would “focus on expanding the electorate by registering more voters—and, as importantly, mobilizing those Texans who are already registered but who have not been engaged in the democratic process.”

Toward that end, BT relies heavily on the efforts of volunteers and organizers “knocking on doors, registering voters, and engaging Texans” to support Democratic candidates. By BT's telling, large numbers of Texans are “tired of not being heard, tired of not being represented ... and tired of the same Republican playbook which is failing our communities and ignoring the[ir] needs.” Vowing to “change the face of presidential politics in this country as we know it,” BT points out that “with 38 electoral votes at stake, a blue [Democratic] Texas would be a surefire road to the White House.” In short, the objective is to make it impossible for Republicans to ever again win a presidential election.

BT notes that as of 2012, Hispanics constituted 41% of Texas’ citizenry, while whites were 43%. This is highly significant because Hispanics tend to vote heavily Democratic. In BT's calculus, existing demographic trends (birth rates, immigration rates, and the gradual maturation of Texas's large pre-voting-age Hispanic population) will eventually—by themselves—make Texas a plurality-Hispanic state by 2017 and a majority-Hispanic state by 2036. But the organization aims to accelerate these eventualities as much as possible, by focusing its efforts on three major priorities:

1) Voter Registration: Observing that Hispanics in Texas have been far less likely than their white counterparts to be registered voters, BT places heavy emphasis on registering the state's 1.5 million unregistered Hispanics.[2] It also seeks to target the 500,000 unregistered African-Americans and 200,000 unregistered Asian-Americans, groups that are likewise reliable supporters of Democrats. 2) Voter Participation: Noting that Hispanics have been significantly less inclined than whites to vote even when registered, BT devotes many of its resources and energies to voter-mobilization initiatives.[3]

3) Voting Blue: BT strives to influence public opinion in Texas via messaging that depicts Republicans as racists who do not understand the needs and concerns of nonwhite voters.

BT's senior adviser is Jeremy Bird, who served as national field director of President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and is the founder of a consulting firm called 270 Strategies; Bird previously worked on the presidential campaigns of Obama in 2008, John Kerry in 2004, and Howard Dean, also in 2004.

In his 2012 work for Obama, Bird revolutionized the effectiveness of the traditional campaign field model. Specifically, he coordinated the registering of some 361,000 left-leaning voters in Florida, 156,000 left-leaning voters in Colorado, and 96,000 left-leaning voters in Nevada. These contacts were not limited solely to Democrats, but also targeted Republicans and undecided voters who, based upon personal information the Obama campaign had collected, were deemed likely to respond favorably to pro-Obama messaging. As a reward for Bird's achievements, the Obama administration allowed him to essentially pick whatever job he wished to tackle after the 2012 election. He chose to devote his efforts to Battleground Texas.

In a February 2013 conference call with reporters, Bird said, “Our approach—using smart data, people-to-people organizing, and digital strategies and analytics—can win even the toughest of campaigns, and we know it will work in Texas too.” The Wall Street Journal describes Bird's approach as “one part data and one part emotional connection,” noting that “he keeps close track of which states are making their targets each day, but also preaches the value of relationships—between the campaign and its volunteers, and between volunteers and voters.”

Bird's efforts are supplemented by those of BT's executive director, Jenn Brown, who previously served as Ohio field director for the 2012 Obama campaign. “We learned in Ohio and across the country that grassroots organizing, grounded in real data, builds movements that win,” said Brown in February 2013. “It’s what won in Virginia, Florida, Colorado, all of the battleground states, and it is what will help us win in Texas.”

Another key figure in BT's organization is its digital director, Christina Gomez, a former digital strategist for the Democratic National Committee.

DTN

NOTES:

[1] As of 2012, Texas had not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Nor had it elected a single statewide Democratic official in a decade.
[2] While the respective Hispanic and white populations of Texas were approximately 9.5 million and 11.5 million, Hispanics accounted for only about 20% of the Texans who voted in 2008 and 2010.
[3] In 2008, 70% of registered Hispanic voters turned out at the polls, as compared to 88% of both whites and blacks who were registered. In 2010, the corresponding figures were 43% of registered Hispanics, 65% of registered whites, and 62% of registered blacks.

 

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