What will it take to flip the Texas House this year?
The polls say this, the news says that, and everyone is a skeptic. For years we’ve heard how Texas is going to flip blue, and we inch closer and closer, only to be disappointed. The polls were wrong in 2016, the polls were wrong in 2018, and they were wrong again in 2020.
Democrats will need to win 11 House seats to flip. Can they do it? To answer that question, we have to look back to 2018.
While Beto lost to Ted Cruz by a meager 200,000 votes, down-ballot, the Beto-effect pulled off a Texas miracle, flipping 12 House seats and dozens of judicial seats around the state.
Which House seats do Democrats have a chance of flipping?
Of all the districts drawn by the white Republicans trying to stay in power, HD54 and HD55 are probably the most absurd. Bell County has the highest Black population in Central Texas, and the GOP has worked overtime to disenfranchise them. In the 2020 election, the voter turnout was only 58%, and in 2018 it was 29%. Based on the demographics of HD54, this should be a Democratic District. It’s 29% Black, 22% Hispanic, and only 42% white.
Republicans didn’t count on organizer and activist Jonathan Hildner running to make HD54 blue and push Democrats to show up to the polls. Hildner is running a fantastic ground campaign and has a good shot at flipping this district. But, like many other districts, winning this seat depends on voter turnout. This seat goes blue if we see a 60% turnout this year.
While HD61 is a Republican-leaning district, a few months ago, the Republican running for this seat, Frederick Frazier, came under felony indictment for impersonating a public servant. Frazier has a history of extreme corruption and far-right positions that even the Conservative Dallas Morning News endorsed his opponent, Democrat Sheena King.
Sheena King is running a hard campaign and while normally would have an uphill battle in this district, is likely to win over moderates and anti-Trump Republicans based on Frazier’s recent indictments.
Democrat Kevin Morris is running to unseat longtime corporate shill Jeff Leach (R).
First, Tarrant County flipped blue. Next, it will be Collin County. Democrats in Collin County have a huge presence, and the GOP has repeatedly tried to block them out. However, I pulled a precinct report for the newly drawn HD67, a 50/50 district.
Local polling from a Collin County group showed Morris leading Leach back in August. While hundreds of thousands of dollars have been pouting into Leach’s campaign, there isn’t enough money to buy off pissed-off women and the youth vote.
The NYTimes recently called the upcoming midterms “strange” because of the Roe vote and the threats to democracy. But, in a year for strange things, Kevin Morris has a good shot at kicking out incumbent Jeff Leach.
Republicans drew HD70 as a sort of giveaway to Democrats to try and keep the rest of Collin County red. Mihaela Plesa is the Democrat who should be a shoo-in for this seat. Although there is a Republican running against her, this district was drawn blue and should be an easy win.
Plesa is a lifelong resident of North Texas, the only child of an immigrant, and previously worked as a legislative director in Austin. Once elected, she will be a fierce advocate for women, families, marginalized communities, and the people in her district.
There is no question that HD92 is flipping. Texas Republicans redrew this district blue to rearrange other districts in Tarrant and Denton County so that they could draw Michelle Beckley out of her seat. The incumbent, Jeff Cason (R), was mostly a dud in the House and palled around with Bryan Slaton, who most of the House Republicans don’t like.
Salman Bhojani is slated to win this race and flip this district in November. Bhojani has an amazing story of moving to this country, working three jobs to get by, getting a law degree, and becoming the first minority to serve on the Euless City Council. He will make an exceptional addition to the House Democrats.
Before redistricting, HD108 was expected to flip from (R) to (D). After redistricting, it’s almost 10% more white and remains mostly affluent as the district that contains University Park and Highland Park. The one thing that’s clear is there will likely be a lot of money poured into this race.
In 2020, the incumbent, Morgan Meyers (R), only won by 1 point. Meyers is running for re-election.
The Democrat running against Meyers is Elizabeth Ginsberg. Ginsberg is a Dallas attorney who has lived in 108 for 24 years and has been active in her community. She is concerned about voting rights, public safety, education, health care, growth, economic opportunity, and the environment.
Even after making 108 more white, Ginsberg still has a shot. Without the Beto-effect, this race would be within 5-points. However, if we see the down-ballot avalanche like we saw in 2018, Ginsberg can flip this seat.
In 2020, the incumbent of 112, Angie Button (R), only won her race by 0.3%. Even after redistricting, 112 is flippable.
Elva Curl is the Democrat running against Button. Curl has racked up endorsements from Annie’s List, Texas AFT, AFL-CIO, and the Workers Defense Action Fund. Her positions are both progressive and refreshing.
Curl had previously ran unsuccessfully for the Dallas City Council, so she started this race with election experience and name recognition. Her campaign has been active and has exploded on the grassroots level.
Although the district was redrawn to protect the incumbent, it’s still a 50/50 Biden-Trump district because without redistricting, Button would lose by a landslide.
This district should have remained a blue district after Leo Pacheco (D) unexpectedly resigned in 2021. Unfortunately, the special election held for his replacement only saw a 7% turnout. Yes, seven. Because of such a low turnout, John Lujan (R) won this historically blue district and is running again for re-election.
We won’t see a repeat of that in this district. The Democrat running against him, Frank Ramirez, should easily be able to flip this seat since Lujan ran twice before for 118 and lost by 11 and 17 points. Lujan’s win in 2021 was a fluke because of the 7% turnout in that race. A mistake that Bexar Democrats are unlikely to make twice.
Briscoe Cain (R) is arguably the worst legislator in Texas. Last year, he led the way in the racist attacks on voting rights and even made national news when he referred to voting rights as “purity at the ballot box.” The Democrat running against Cain is Chuck Crews, a progressive with a background in the petrochemical industry.
During the 2020 election, Briscoe Cain won this district by 27 points. However, when Republicans redrew the districts in Harris County, they had to make other seats more white and 128 less Republican for the GOP to keep a strong grip on these gerrymandered areas. Their goal was to make incumbents safe, but 128 is more diverse and competitive.
The biggest problem Democrats have had in this district has been turnout. During the 2018 election, the turnout was only 50%. Republicans are counting on this district’s low turnout to keep Cain in his seat. However, if Democrats show up to the polls this year because of the Roe issue or the Beto-effect, this seat could flip if this district sees a 65% turnout.
In 2018, Mike Schofield (R) only won this district by 0.1 points; in 2020, by three points. Schofield’s voting record fell in line with the alt-right Republicans regarding voting rights, women’s rights, local control, and public education. That means, for someone who just barely won, he went too far right to keep any moderate constituents he may have happy.
Even after redistricting, this race should be very close.
Running against Schofield is Cameron “Coach Cam” Campbell, who is running a grassroots campaign. Coach Cam is well known in the community for his work with the Houston Texans, the Black Chamber of Commerce, and a former high school football coach.
He is widely liked and supported in his community and has a real shot at taking this seat from Schofield.
Incumbent Lacey Hull (R) has had more of her dirty laundry aired in public than any other House Representative I remember in recent years. Living Blue in Texas was the first media outlet to report her divorce and alleged affair with fellow House member Cole Hefner. We also published leaked text messages in which Hull said some awful things about fellow Republicans and implicated her friend, Valoree Swanson, in election fraud.
In 2020, this was a close race, and Hull barely skated by. But, while the GOP redrew her district to protect her, she’s unpopular with Republicans and Independents alike.
The Democrat running for this seat is Stephanie Morales. Morales is an attorney who wants to fight for women’s rights, unlike Hull, who wants to strip them away. The Roe vote will be important in 138 since Hull stood behind every terrible piece of anti-women legislation last year. Despite the GOP’s effort to gerrymander this district, it can flip based on the angry women ready to make it to the polls.
Do Democrats have a shot?
HD70, HD92, and HD118 will go to the Democrats running for those seats.
Is there enough momentum between the Roe vote and the Beto-effect to flip eight more seats?
It’s hard to say. Pollsters have been wrong in every election in the past several years. Texas is a blue state right now, but we don’t see the fruits of that because Texas has also been a non-voting state by design.
The month before the 2018 election, Quinnipiac had Cruz beating Beto by 9 points, but Beto only lost by 2 points, and the Beto-effect still flipped 12 House seats.
Last month, a Quinnipiac poll showed Abbott winning by 7 points. There will likely be another Quinnipiac poll to come out later this month.
If we see the swing this year that we saw in 2018, Beto will win, and several House seats could flip, maybe even 11 of them.
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