Matt Mackowiak, 6/22/2016 [Archive]

No, Hillary Won't Win Texas

By Matt Mackowiak

Recently, Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, claimed she wants to win Texas in the fall and thinks it is possible.

That's not possible. She's either naive or delusional.

I have been writing about Democratic efforts to "turn Texas blue" for at least three years, and I am on record as a determined skeptic.

One day Texas will be competitive, largely due to demographic changes. But that day is eight, 10, or 12 years away ---- maybe more.

The first step in the plan to "turn Texas blue" was to win, or at least keep close, the 2014 race for governor.

More than a year before that race occurred, on Sept. 16, 2013, I wrote this in the American-Statesman: "But I come back to something Senator (Wendy) Davis told San Antonio Express-News Austin bureau chief Peggy Fikac, in a piece that ran Sept. 1: "Before I look people in the eye and say, 'Will you spend time volunteering for me, will you dedicate resources to me,' I want to make sure that I'm asking them to do something that I can tell them, with conviction, I believe we can accomplish."

Asked about the effect a losing race would have on her own political future, she said: "I won't do it if I think I'm going to lose."

If you take Davis at her word, she gave up her competitive Texas Senate seat in 2014 to run for governor because she thought she could win.

What transpired was one of the biggest blowouts in statewide political history in Texas.

Greg Abbott defeated Wendy Davis by a margin of 982,000 votes. Davis won a paltry 19 counties of the state's 254. She spent $35 million. Even Bill White won 42 percent of the vote in 2010 as the Democratic candidate.

Hillary Clinton is a far better candidate than Davis, but that's not saying much because Clinton is quite simply not a very good candidate.

That said, she does not need Texas. Running a competitive statewide race here would cost a minimum of $20 million, and probably far more than that. In 2012, Mitt Romney won Texas by 1.2 million votes over Barack Obama. And neither candidate really competed here.

So you have to start by thinking Clinton's floor statewide is 38 percent. What is her ceiling? If she spent $20 million to $30 million and campaigned here, perhaps 45 percent.

Donald Trump will not be strong with Hispanic and African-American voters in Texas, but he will be strong in suburban and rural areas.

The one wild card is whether Clinton selects former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as vice president, as some have suggested.

I think this is unlikely, as Castro is manifestly unqualified for VP. He has zero national security experience, and Housing and Urban Development is no launching pad to national office. He will be mentioned on the short list, but ultimately not selected.

The real concern is down ballot. The most competitive races in Texas are Congressional District 23 (San Antonio to El Paso, with two-thirds of the voters being Hispanic), four Texas House districts held by Hispanic members (one in South Texas, one in San Antonio and two in Houston) and several state house seats in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Fortunately, the state GOP has appointed George P. Bush to lead their victory effort, which specifically raises and spends money in those targeted races. I suspect he will raise far above what's been raised in past cycles ---- and I know he is eager to help.

If Trump underperforms in these specific districts, he could badly damage these Republican candidates and cause them to narrowly lose.

Will those incumbents be able to effectively balance the Trump factor in their districts? This is a tightrope ---- and there is no manual.

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© Copyright 2016 Matt Mackowiak distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Mackowiak is an Austin- and Washington-based Republican consultant and president of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. He has been an adviser to two U.S. senators and a governor, and has advised federal and state political campaigns across the country.

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