Texas Democrats’ first virtual convention last week, dealing with national and state races during a pandemic, the question was, could Red-State Texas go Blue? For Senate? Or even president?
The COVID-19 virus has killed over 110,000 Americans, and around 2,000 Texans, in three months. It drove Democrats to their first-ever online gathering rather than in-person.
Other things affecting their convention:
• The May 25 killing of African-American George Floyd, 46, by a Minneapolis policeman’s knee on his neck, after Floyd’s cries of “I can’t breathe” went ignored for minutes past his death.
That triggered huge daily protest marches since, all over the US and the world. It probably marks a turn in consciousness about racial injustice, and is immediately affecting politics – including in Texas.
• President Donald Trump’s me-first self-indulgence – like using troops and tear gas to quash a peaceful protest, so he could walk to a photo op brandishing a Bible at a church near the White House – has driven some former defense officials in his administration to break their silence and speak out,
Like his former Secretary of Defense, Gen. Jim Mattis:
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try,” Mattis wrote recently in The Atlantic. “Instead he tries to divide us.
“We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort,” Mattis wrote. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”
• The confirmation that former Vice-President Joe Biden won enough delegates in the June 2 primary elections in seven states and the District of Columbia to surpass the 1,991 pledged Democratic national convention delegates required to win the Democratic presidential nomination outright – more than two months ahead of the party’s convention set for Aug. 17-20 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin;
• A recent Quinnipiac Texas poll showed the race between President Donald Trump and Biden to be a dead heat. Trump had 44 percent to 43 percent for Biden – well within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.
The poll, of 1,166 self-identified registered voters, was taken May 28 to June 1.
At the virtual convention, most speeches were pre-recorded. But an online press forum allowed reporters to listen to and ask questions of various Democratic officials.
There was a live debate Saturday afternoon between MJ Hegar of Round Rock and Dallas state Sen. Royce West, the runoff candidates for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate.
The winner of the July 14 election will oppose Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s attempt to extend his 18-year tenure by another six years.
The tight race between Trump and Biden is not good news for Cornyn. The same poll showed him with a job approval/disapproval rating of 37 percent to 36 percent – down from 41-34 in September.
At their convention, the Democrats were fond of saying, “Win Texas, Lose Trump.” And they are almost certainly correct.
It used to be the case that a Democrat couldn’t win the presidency without winning Texas. The last Democrat to win a presidential race in Texas, and the election, was Jimmy Carter in 1976.
But in his 1980 re-election effort, Carter lost Texas to Republican Ronald Reagan – and the election. No Democratic presidential candidate has won Texas since.
However, Democratic presidential candidates have since proven they can become president without carrying Texas – Bill Clinton in 1992, and 1996, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
It now seems that a Republican probably can’t win the presidency without winning Texas.
In 2016, Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by 9 percent in Texas. Even while losing the popular vote to Clinton nationally by almost 3 million votes, Trump – by narrow victories in a few battleground states – won an electoral college majority of 304 to 227 for Clinton – 34 more than the 270 of the 538 total votes needed to win.
There were seven so-called “faithless electors” in 2016, who voted for someone other than the candidates they supposedly were pledged to support. That cost Trump two electoral votes, and Clinton five. Had everyone voted as they were pledged, Trump would have had 306 votes, Clinton 232.
Had that happened, and Trump lost Texas’ 38 electoral votes that year, that would have decreased Trump’s vote to 268 – to Clinton’s 270.
With the Democrats nationally trying to gain the three or four seats they need to get control of the Senate, winning Cornyn’s seat would be a huge boost.
We’ll see if the Texas Democrats can pull off a double whammy, taking down Trump and Cornyn.
Contact Dave McNeely at email@example.com