Could Texas be a battleground state?
February 26th, 2013
01:20 PM ET
10 years ago

Could Texas be a battleground state?

(CNN) - Texas, 38 electoral votes and all, goes for the Democratic nominee for president.


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That's the vision of Battleground Texas, a new group of former Obama campaign aides seeking to turn the Lone Star State into a political battleground, where Democrats go head to head with the dominant Republicans and are – at least – competitive.

And "when the time is right, we'll have a competitive statewide" election, said Jeremy Bird, former National Field Director with Obama's campaign and a senior adviser to the Battleground Texas project.

Some Texas democrats are more than optimistic it could happen soon. Tanene Allison, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party, says their operation shares Battleground Texas' goals and thinks "absolutely in 2016 we'll be considered a battleground" where Texas is a state that candidates must visit on the road to the White House.

But is it all talk? After all, Texas hasn't gone for a Democrat on the presidential ballot since 1976, when Jimmy Carter narrowly won the state over Gerald Ford.

Bird says his group will inject some blue energy in the state, applying the techniques his candidate used to win two presidential elections, including sweeping the states political analysts agreed were electoral battlegrounds.

"This program will make Texas a battleground state by treating it as one," he said on a Tuesday conference call with reporters, mentioning plans for voter registration and digital efforts aimed at expanding the base of Democratic voters in Texas. "Grassroots voices are already changing this country on a scale that was unheard of in this country a few years ago."

He declined to predict a date when the state would go for the Democratic presidential candidate but said his group will be preparing a climate favorable to democrats on the county level, then for the state senate and evaluate "how the field shapes out for the bigger statewide races."

"We'll be working on things in 2014 for sure," he said.

There was a time several decades ago when Texas was Democratic. But, Bird pointed out, Democrats have lost all of the most recent 100 statewide elections dating back to 1996.

In 2012, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the state 57% to 41% by a margin of nearly 1.3 million votes. President Barack Obama carried only 26 of the state's 254 counties.

Most recently, said Allison with the state Democratic Party, Texas has been "treated like an ATM" for the national Democratic effort. She said their party "enthusiastically welcomes Battleground to Texas" and is launching its own political infrastructure to put counties with Democratic potential in their column, and begin to work at more red regions.

By 2014, she said, the difference will begin to show.

Texas is a large state with over 26 million people including a significant Hispanic population – a voting bloc which nationwide voted disproportionately for Obama and Democrats last year. The Texas Democratic Party last year elected the state's first Hispanic party chairman.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro found himself in the national spotlight last year when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention and told Democrats, "Texas may be the one place where people actually still have bootstraps, and we expect folks to pull themselves up by them. But we also recognize there are some things we can't do alone. We have to come together and invest in opportunity today for prosperity tomorrow."

He is seen as a rising star in the party and lent his voice to the Battleground project.

"This is not just about demographics," he said on the conference call. "It's really about getting folks to participate in American democracy."

Texas, he said, has people of "different backgrounds, different voices that truly represent the America of the 21st century" and predicted to reporters that "on the second Tuesday in November in the not too distant future, that you will be announcing that Texas [has] gone to the Democratic nominee for president of the United States."

- CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Ashley Killough contributed to this report

Filed under: Texas
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. CarolinaGirl

    Bird, please come and work in the state of South Carolina we need you.

    February 26, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    90% of the population growth TX experienced that showed on the 2010 census was a result of hispanic population growth. And you wonder why the GOP/TEatrolls freaked the hell out and started throwing complete nutties over illegal immigration, ramped up the demagoguery about imaginary voter fraud, tried to rig the electoral systems to suppress and dilute minority votes, etc.?

    The reporting here is extremely poor, by the way. You failed to mention the recent polling that showed Hillary could actually take TX or at least make it extremely extremely close.

    February 26, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. rs

    Never underestimate the anger of sane people subjected to fools like Perry and the TEA Party. Frankly, the GOP is toast. The 2014 elections will verify their rejection.

    February 26, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. ld

    If you don't live in Texas then you don't know what the heck is going on in this state. Law abiding Mexican Americans such as myself, aren't going to vote for the anti family progressive party.

    February 26, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. Peace

    When and NOT if, Texas falls in the hands of Dems, there is no way republicans can ever win the White House again. I pray this turn to be the reality.

    February 26, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  6. v_mag

    I was in a coffee shop across the street from UT in 1976 when Chip Carter came in and introduced himself to patrons, one handshake at a time. That is the last I've seen of any significant presidential campaigning in Texas. The state is totally ignored by both parties now, even though it has far more electoral votes than Ohio or Florida.

    I want my vote for president to count, and it never will until the Electoral College is abolished (the best option by far) or the state begins to turn blue, which is far more likely.

    February 26, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  7. Tracy

    Texas will never turn back to Democrat. Texas is doing better than the majority of other states and it all started happening when Texas turned Republican. Texas doesn't want to end up like states such as Detroit, Chicago etc.....Democrat.

    February 26, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    When it goes blue, can we pull down the equestrian statue of Cowboy Fonzie, aka Rick Perry?

    February 26, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. Corey

    What a preposterous idea.

    February 26, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. chilly g

    if the democrafts used the same strategy that the president used in geting reelected by targeting votes then texas
    will become blue. the state is already blue the democrafrts just has to get them to the polls.

    February 26, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. much thunder.little rain

    the same year new york goes gop...

    February 26, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. v_mag

    Id – Under the obstructionist Republican rule in Texas, law-abiding Mexican Americans haven't been allowed to vote for anyone, in many cases.

    February 26, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. v_mag

    Tracy said, " Texas doesn't want to end up like states such as Detroit, Chicago etc".

    Surely someone will point out to you that Detroit and Chicago are cities, not states. But they should also point out that Republican rule in Texas has historically had zero to do with the prosperity of the "state". If anything, Texas began backsliding into poverty and ignorance when Republicans took over, and it won't get out of that hole until there is a change in leadership away from the Rethugs.

    February 26, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Gurgyl

    Texas turns Democratic soon.

    February 26, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. Just because

    We are a creationist state.
    Rick perry is our guv, and Cornyn is our guy.
    We turn liberals and gays into road kill.
    We will bail from the union when Rick says march Christian soldiers.
    We aim to go backward, retreating with our money soon to be backed by gold Rands signed by Paul Rand on behalf of Jesus.

    February 26, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |

    I live in Texas and unless you're in Dallas (me), Houston, or Austin. . .the whole state is full of ignorant GOP/tea party redneck hicks.

    February 26, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. Al-NY,NY


    Texas will never turn back to Democrat. Texas is doing better than the majority of other states and it all started happening when Texas turned Republican. Texas doesn't want to end up like states such as Detroit, Chicago etc.....Democrat.

    STATES like Chicago, Detroit???? Wow. That home schooling including creationism, flat-earth science, and global warming denial really did you well. Maybe you're breathing in too much of the smog that blankets the state

    February 26, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  18. yanni

    That will be the start of the embarking of the south in to the 21st century. Represented by the GOP is a symbol of the past

    February 26, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. Donna

    Yeah, that Democrat agenda of banning guns is going to swing the state Democrat. Sounds like Dems are smoking pretty heavily at their new Denver HQ.

    February 26, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |