Nate Cohn presents some new data on the 2018 Texas Senate election based on survey data, actual election results and the voter file for the state. His analysis largely accords with what I and some other analysts have been saying about trends in Texas and prospects for Democrats. Here’s the basic story:
“[H]ow did Mr. O’Rourke fare so well? He did it through old-fashioned persuasion, by winning voters who had voted for Republicans and for minor-party candidates….
Mr. O’Rourke’s strong showing had essentially nothing to do with the initial vision of a Blue Texas powered by mobilizing the state’s growing Hispanic population. The Texas electorate was only two points more Hispanic in 2018 than it was in 2012, but President Obama lost the state by 16 points in 2012, compared with Mr. O’Rourke’s 2.6-point loss.
At the same time, Mr. O’Rourke fared worse than Mr. Obama or Hillary Clinton in many of the state’s heavily Hispanic areas, particularly in more conservative South Texas. This could reflect Mr. Cruz’s relative strength among Hispanic voters compared with a typical Republican.
Instead, Mr. O’Rourke’s improvement came almost exclusively from white voters, and particularly college-educated white voters. Whites probably gave him around 33 percent of their votes, up from a mere 22 percent for Mr. Obama in 2012.
There’s clearly additional upside for Democrats if they could pair their recent gains among white voters with improvement among Hispanic voters (through some combination of persuasion, higher turnout among registrants and newly registered voters)…..
Put it together, and Texas is on the cusp of being a true (if Republican-tilting) battleground state. It might not be immediately and vigorously contested, as Arizona or North Carolina will most likely be, given the greater expense of campaigning in Texas and the fact that it starts out to the right of those states. But if Democrats chose to contest it seriously in 2020, there wouldn’t be anything crazy about that.”
So there you have it. Texas really is becoming a battleground state, through a very interesting combination of persuasion, turnout and demographic change. There’s a lesson there for people who are just included to look at one factor!