The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas on Aug. 9, 2010. AP Images/Carolyn Kaster. President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas on Aug. 9, 2010. AP Images/Carolyn Kaster.  

Three steps: How the Dems plan to make Texas a battleground state by 2016

1) Voter registration

While there are about 9.5 million Hispanics in Texas, compared with 11.5 million whites, Hispanics only accounted for about 20 percent of the Texans who voted in 2008 and 2010. One of the two reasons? Voter registration.

In 2008, 54 percent of Texan Hispanics were registered, while white and black registration held even at 74 percent. And in 2010, Hispanics were registered at just 53 percent, while whites and blacks were at 67 and 62 percent, respectively. Over all, Texas is home to 1.5 million unregistered Hispanic-Americans, 500,000 unregistered African-Americans and 200,000 unregistered Asian-Americans — all populations the Democrats intend to target.

2) Voter participation

But the fight to win a voter doesn’t end with voter registration — the next step is voter participation. A party can register all the people it wants, but if they don’t show up on Election Day, it doesn’t make a difference.

Hispanics lag behind in this aspect, too: In 2008, 70 percent of registered Hispanic voters turned out, while whites and blacks were tied at 88 percent. In 2010, only 43 percent of Hispanics turned out, compared with 65 percent of registered whites and 62 percent of registered blacks.

The Hispanics are underperforming as far as voter participation is concerned. Democrats know that this leaves a lot of room for improvement — a lot of room for outreach.

3) Voting blue

Now comes the harder part, at least as far as a 2016 timeline is concerned, because shifting public opinion is harder than registering voters or increasing turnouts. But the bottom line is this: If the Democrats accomplish their first two goals, and get Texan Hispanics in line with national Hispanic party affiliation, they could put Texas in play in 2016. And while swinging public opinion is difficult, it certainly isn’t impossible — particularly giving the Democrats’ demonstrated ability to micro-target potential voters with data-driven messaging. (BEDFORD: How Romney’s consultants lost the election as soon as it began)

In 2008, 35 percent of Texan Hispanics voted for the GOP. No exit polls were taken in Texas in 2012, but the national Hispanic GOP vote was only 27 percent — four points lower than the national Hispanic GOP vote in 2008. So, going off of limited data, and giving the GOP the benefit of the doubt, the Democrats would need to swing Texan Hispanic voters their way by between four and eight points.

And while Republicans like Mr. Norquist and Texas Gov. Rick Perry say that the Democrat’s goal is a pipe dream because of the Texas GOP’s differences from the national GOP, they would be well served by studying the case of former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who, despite a roundly liberal record on abortion and other social issues, was painted as part of a national, socially conservative machine by 2012 Democrats. Then-candidate Elizabeth Warren didn’t focus attacks on Mr. Brown for his quotes regarding abortion, for example — she instead ran ads attacking former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s quotes on abortion.

In the next Texas election, Texas Republicans should not expect to be spared attack ads highlighting Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s harsher immigration policies.

By making races national when convenient, both parties have discovered a winning strategy — and one that can overwhelm a single state’s party apparatus.

Vlytics, a Republican data and analytics firm run by veterans of national and statewide campaigns, made no bones about the Democrat’s chances. “We’ve run a model on the Texas demographics; we know that the Democrats have too,” Vlytics partner Brian Stobie told The Daily Caller. “We know, and the Democrats know, that if they achieve these three goals, they can turn Texas purple, or even blue, in as little as four years. What is unclear is if the GOP knows this.”

But who is capable of pulling just this scenario off? Enter: Battleground Texas and its senior adviser, Jeremy Bird.