Saturday, March 10, 2018

Texas Primaries Disappointing for Dems But Bright Spots Remain

Hat Tip: Andrew Benjami

by Douglas E. Schoen

The results of the recent primaries in Texas were surprising—and, for Democrats, concerning.

The overall trend was much greater turnout for Republicans: for instance, 62.8 percent of U.S. Senate primary votes were cast on the Republican side, as opposed to 37.2 percent for Democrats.  In the race for Governor, too, 60.2% of votes cast were in the Republican primary and 39.8% in the Democratic one.

This result contradicted Democratic optimism that this would finally be the year Texas goes blue and belied some earlier predictive metrics: in early voting, Democratic voting outnumbered Republicans in the 15 largest districts (465,000 vs 420,000).

The results of these primaries demonstrate clearly that the Democratic establishment needs to rethink their strategy if they want to capitalize on the potential energy of backlash to President Trump.

Even more concerning was the lack of Democratic enthusiasm in districts that Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election.

An especially telling example is the Democratic race in the 7th District, where Democratic votes numbered only 46.6% of the total, despite having voted for Clinton in 2016.  This lack of enthusiasm is particularly striking as the primary there has gotten much attention for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s unusual efforts to undermine candidate Laura Moser, whom they have criticized for being a Washington insider.

Moser’s efforts to run an anti-establishment, liberal campaign were somewhat successful, as her second-place finish qualifies her for the runoff election in May.  But Democrats would be unwise to choose Moser to represent the party in the general election. Instead, if they want to have a shot at flipping the district, they need a more moderate candidate who can win over centrist voters.

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