Can Texas Democrats Really Turn the Lone Star State Blue in 2018?

Air Date: 03/04/2018
Source:
Meet the Press
Creator:
Chuck Todd
Air/Publish Date:
03/04/2018
Event Date:
03/04/2018
Resource Type:
News Report
Copyright:
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
Copyright Date:
2018
Clip Length:
00:02:30

As the 2018 Midterm Elections approach, many Democrats turn their attention to Texas. Voter turnout and demographics will be crucial, and with 10 days into early voting, voter turnout has increased 102 percent since the 2014 election cycle.

Can Texas Democrats Really Turn the Lone Star State Blue in 2018? 

CHUCK TODD, anchor: 

Data Download time.  And the midterm primary season officially kicks off this Tuesday in a big way, thanks to a big state.  Democrats are hoping to ride a big wave in 2018, and we’re going to get a clue this week about how realistic that may be, as Texas voters head to the polls.  Texas, you say?  Yes, Texas.  Consider this: 

In 2016, Hillary Clinton came closer to winning Texas than she did Iowa.  And remind me, which is the one we call such an important swing state and which did we dismiss?  Anyway, the biggest test case may be in the Senate, where Ted Cruz will likely face Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke.  So if you’re watching that race closely, what are you looking for to see if it will be competitive?  Turnout and demographics.  And on the turnout front, Democrats have reason to be excited. 

Through 10 days of early voting in the 15 largest counties in Texas, while Republicans have seen a 16% increase in turnout since their 2014 midterm primaries, Democrats have seen a whopping 102% increase in turnout in that same time period.  That’s more than four times the gains Republicans saw in the last midterm primary cycle, which turned into a Republican year.

But the big question in Texas always is who votes?  In 2016, white voters made up 43 percent of the Texas population, but 57% of the Texas electorate-- that’s a big gap; while Hispanics made up 39% of the population, but only 25% of the electorate.  If the percentage of white voters starts to drop closer to the 50% mark or even below, that will be seen as a good sign for the Democrats. 

But even if Democrats don’t swing the Texas Senate seat, they could still do well in other races- four House districts we’re watching in Texas, all currently held by Republicans-- three of those actually voted for Clinton over Trump in ’16; three are above the national average in college education; three are at least two-thirds, quote, “urban”; and one of them is two-thirds Hispanic. 

All are indicators that these races could swing in the Democrats’ favor.  Look, if the turnout trend of 2017 continues-- and it looks like it is-- where we saw big numbers in typically low turnout races, Democrats are going to benefit.  But by how much?  Could O’Rourke actually beat Cruz?  Maybe.  But are Democrats going to be competitive across the Lone Star State?  I have a Texas-sized hunch they will be.

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