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Cover 07/24/2013

The Hunt for Blue November: Why Battleground Texas Needs White Women

Photo: Callie Enlow, License: N/A

Callie Enlow

Over 75 people turned out for Battleground Texas’ latest San Antonio voter registration training

Photo: SOURCE: CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS. *ESTIMATES BASED OFF TABULATION AND EXTRAPOLATION OF CHANGE IN ELEGIBLE VOTERS FOUND IN 2008 AND 2011 AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY, License: N/A

SOURCE: CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS. *ESTIMATES BASED OFF TABULATION AND EXTRAPOLATION OF CHANGE IN ELEGIBLE VOTERS FOUND IN 2008 AND 2011 AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY


It has been widely publicized that, following his reelection, the president and his campaign staff refused to release details of the digital campaign architecture, preserving the code and engineering schematics under lock and key to be lent or leased to a few select organizations. Presumably, the OFA veterans now with BGTX have access to at least part of the same powerful programming code developed by dream-team software engineers for the 2012 Obama campaign. Battleground Texas won’t comment, saying, “we don’t get into the specifics of our data program,” but the platform looks to be running on very similar infrastructure.

Red Herrings

For years GOP strategists have publicly fretted over the consolidation of the expanding population of Latino voters as part of the Democratic coalition. Obama’s capture of both popular and electoral vote majorities last November despite ceding a crushing majority of white votes for Romney underscored the urgency of broadening the party’s appeal. But the party suffers from so much disarray and internecine power struggles at the moment that it has done more to alienate Latinos, and, for that matter, women, than to build bridges. Most recently, the GOP-led U.S. House of Representatives rebuffed the bipartisan immigration reform bill, which Texan Latinos name as a top policy priority. Even before breaking up on the shores of the lower House, both Texas Republican senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz had already voted against it.

It can be hard to take seriously the steady issuance of resolutions by the Republican Party of Texas to embrace minority politics and policies. A recently issued memo on the group’s Web site reads: “We will also be adding a significant number of field staff to be embedded in the Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American communities around Texas.”  

Embedded sounds so... creepy? Yet BGTX volunteers just scratch their heads when asked if they see GOP counterparts canvassing at public events. Activists are nowhere to be found. “They’re probably at the golf clubs and the banquets,” quips the BCDP’s Emil Hunziker. “The Republican Party doesn’t have any idea how to do a ground game.”

In June, Politico published an internal document from the Koch-funded group FreedomWorks directing $8 million toward Texas to “counter state and national Democratic efforts to make the state more electorally competitive.” The budget includes $1.8 million for public opinion polls, $1.6 million for online media advertising, and hundreds of thousands of dollars for Facebook, Twitter and email outreach. The fact that such an enormous outlay is required to teach the GOP how to network the virtual grassroots only reveals just how far behind the Democratic machine it lags: BGTX’s Facebook followers outpaced the Republican Party of Texas profile in just 78 days and now has an online reach of 8 million.

Get The Gringa

“There is also great potential to engage women voters in Texas,” BGTX head Jeremy Bird wrote in a blog in February. “Women voters in the Lone Star state supported Obama by just 47 percent in 2008–far fewer than the 55 percent nationwide that supported the president in both 2008 and 2012.” In both cases, the spread over men exceeded 10 points. More women turned out to vote than men, as well, 64 percent of the female CVAP, versus 60 percent for men.

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