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Don’t measure Texas’ political color by winning and losing at the top of the poll this year. The most interesting changes are local and regional, best seen through the results of Congress and legislation.
A change in the political tide will fill the basement before it reaches the roof.
These contests are less expensive and they are also more politically effective, concentrated in smaller areas where local trends are more important than general statewide trends. Examples are everywhere: Democrats have won seats in Congress and the Legislature even as Republicans have swept every election statewide since 1994.
The state remained red in 2018, but Texas Democrats increased their numbers in Congress and Parliament.
The statewide results that year were much closer than they had been in the previous election. Challengers like Beto O’Rourke, Mike Collier and Justin Nelson came within a few percentage points of victory. But US Senator Ted Cruz, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton won, and Republicans swept the best races.
These results attracted a lot of attention in both parties, but the substantive changes were later in the ballot. Democrats won two Congress seats in Texas held by Republicans, paving the way for serious challenges in six or seven more districts in 2020.
Republicans want to keep the momentum going. They won the state for their presidential candidate in 1980 and have repeated that performance every four years since then. Lloyd Bentsen, who relinquished his seat in the US Senate in 1993 to become Secretary of the Treasury, was the last Texas Democrat elected to sit there.
If the race for the US Senate in Texas isn’t really on the line, is Texas really on the line?
The resources Democrats devote to this particular race will indicate their seriousness in taking over statehood.
More likely – and more economical, that’s the point – they’ll pick which congressional and legislative races they think they can win, hoping those local wins will result in a statewide race.
It’s bottom to top, not top to bottom. A measure of this is, and will be, relative interest in Democratic U.S. Senate candidate MJ Hegar, on the one hand, and in the races for Congressional and legislative candidates below her on the ballot. .
US Senator John Cornyn had $ 14.5 million at mid-year, much more than Hegar, his challenger. She had about $ 900,000. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, as it was entangled in a runoff at the time. Now that she’s nominated, she needs to catch up. Look at the numbers in September. She will have the help of the Democratic Senate campaign committee, but she entered the home stretch of this electoral cycle at a financial disadvantage.
Texas Democrats running for the United States House, on the other hand, are ahead. In their mid-year fundraising reports, compiled by The Texas Tribune, these Democrats had a $ 7.5 million advantage over Republicans this year; at the same time four years ago, Republicans had a $ 20.9 million advantage.
Statewide races in Texas are expensive. The state has more than a dozen and a half media markets – the virtual distribution points for commercial and political advertising. None of the states adjacent to Texas have a third as much. You could run a statewide political campaign in these four states – New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana – with about the same resources it would take to run a race. here.
It doesn’t make financial sense to fight in the more expensive territory if it takes away winnable fights elsewhere. If you have the money to do both, it doesn’t matter, but New York billionaire presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is no longer in the running.
Texas has 36 congressional districts. It’s a lot cheaper to compete in six to nine of them than in the 36. There are 150 seats at Texas House, but the vast majority of them are safe for the incumbents. Control of the House could go to Republicans or Democrats, but neither needs a statewide vote to control things. They really argue – and it’s a generous estimate – only 20% of these districts.
Of course, winning statewide this year would be a huge PR victory for Democrats. This could persuade political candidates, consultants and non-state donors to spend more money here in the future. There is plenty of evidence that the 2018 results have already attracted some of this interest.
Until the election results are released, money is the measure to watch. After the election, the headlines will be on the top of the ticket. But if you want to know where Texas stands on the political scale from red to blue, look a little further down on the ballot.