Democrats will win Texas by ending their chase of the mythical moderate and focusing on non-voters.
Over the last week, as Texans discussed the possible impending Beto O’Rourke campaign for governor, the same argument(s) kept coming up. Beto can’t win over Centrists. Beto has no appeal to Moderates. So, it’s time we talk about this.
In 1964, American historian Richard Hofstadter wrote an article in Harper’s Magazine called, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” Later the essay was called, “one of the most important and most influential articles published.” Many budding college students wrote a thesis on Hofstadter’s essay in the decades that followed. In his article, he asserted that after Barry Goldwater’s embarrassing loss, the “paranoid style” of Conservative Republicans would fade away.
Richard Nixon adopted Goldwater’s Southern Strategy and moved to the right of his earlier positions during his 1968 election. After Watergate, Democrats swept the 1974 presidential election. The Republican Party moved further to the right. Then Ronald Reagan, two Bushes, and Trump. Each Republican president moved further to the right.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party chases after the moderate Republican in hopes of winning votes.
The idea is that since Texas is sooooo Conservative, Democrats can only win State elections if they woo the Never-Trumpers.
But, we’ve done that song and dance, and it costs us elections.
Like the last one. I think we’re finally to the point where we don’t have to talk about how it’s “too soon.” So, let’s rip off that Band-Aid.
Hager voted for Romney in 2008 and McCain in 2012. She was a Republican, then switched to the Democratic Party.
Her positions were bland, inoffensive, and unremarkable. I don’t remember her positions, but I remember she was in the military and drove a motorcycle. She would be someone we would classify as a moderate.
Not only did Hager lose, she drastically under preformed the Biden vote.
The reason why is the same reason Texas is 47th in voter turnout in the nation. As Hager and the Democratic groups on the ground in 2020 pandered to the suburban white-moderate, they ignored some of the most important demographics in the state.
Chasing after the white suburban moderate cost us votes in the Rio Grande Valley.
Don’t take my word for it; check out this study done by fivethirtyeight, which proves the “Moderate Middle” is just a myth. Or this essay in Salon, which links to studies proving there are very few actual middle-of-the-road voters.
The Moderate is a myth, and the Centrist is a concocted voter that Texas Democrats have pandered to for far too long.
Instead of chasing 5% of Republicans who might vote for a Democrat, a better strategy is to chase the 55% who don’t vote at all.
That’s the youth vote, progressives, and people otherwise disenchanted with the process.
In 2022, if Democrats turn out the youth vote and the BIPOC vote, we win.
In 2020, the youth vote in Texas went 62% to Biden and 35% to Trump. However, only 27% of voters between 18 to 24 made it to the polls.
In general, younger voters are more progressive and vote for Democrats by a much wider margin. And younger BIPOC are more likely to support progressive candidates than their white peers; although, the white youth vote still leans left.
During the last midterms in Texas in 2018, 11 million eligible voters didn’t cast a ballot at all.
These weren’t Republicans who sometimes vote for Democrats; they were young people and people of color disenchanted with the voting process.
Texas won’t turn blue by convincing Republicans to vote for us. Texas will turn blue by convincing everyone to vote. Those concerned that Beto won’t win because he can’t win over “moderates” need to reframe their thinking about how we can get the millions of non-voters engaged.
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