Texas Democrats 2020 Series is a multi-part look on Texas Democrats’ path to victory in 2020. In today’s post, we outline our plan to win.
About one year ago, the Texas Democratic Party released our Path to Victory, which mapped out our progress and our strategy ahead of the most important election of our lifetimes. However, once the coronavirus reached our state, our communities were left suffering, our healthcare system strained, and our economy at its breaking point — all because of the cruelty and incompetence of the Republicans in charge. Like all Texans, we have adapted. We continue to innovate, invest in our digital infrastructure, and hire talented operatives who will deliver victories up and down the ballot.
First, a little background.
Texas Democrats have clear momentum. In 2016, Texas outperformed some traditional battleground states, like Iowa and Ohio. In 2018, we narrowed the statewide margin to 2.57%. Now, polls show Texas is ‘essentially tied’ for the 2020 presidential race.
Texas Republicans are scared. Together, we will win the White House, take out John Cornyn, expand our Texas congressional delegation, break the supermajority in the Texas Senate, flip the Texas House, bring balance to our courts, and elect hundreds of local Democrats across the state— and we’ve got a plan to do it. We will:
- Motivate voters who sometimes miss an election
- Persuade folks not satisfied with Trump to vote Democratic
- Protect access to the ballot and making it easier to vote
Before we dive into our plan, let’s run through how the Texas electorate is rapidly changing.
Poll after poll shows Joe Biden either leading or tied with Donald Trump in Texas. The most recent PPP poll has Joe Biden and Donald Trump both at 48%. A Fox News poll in June and a just-released Quinnipiac poll had Biden beating Trump in Texas. Not to mention, polls have found that Trump’s approval rating is plummeting — with a majority of Texans disapproving of how he has managed the coronavirus response.
How we’ve made huge gains
The closely watched 2018 U.S. Senate race finished within 215,000 votes out of nearly 8,400,000 votes cast. This strong performance is driven by our rapidly emerging Democratic coalition in an expanding, engaged electorate, making Texas a focal point of the national Democratic offensive strategy.
During the 2020 Democratic and Republican Primaries, more Democrats voted than Republicans. During early voting and on Super Tuesday, Democrats cast 2,076,046 ballots, while Republicans trailed behind at 2,008,385. Not to mention, during the primary runoff election in July, Texas Democrats broke the record for the highest turnout in Texas Democratic in at least 25 years. These trends speak to the momentum of the Democratic movement in Texas.
"Between 2016 and July 2020, the Texas voter rolls grew by 2.1 million voters. 149,000 of those new voters have registered since the March Primary.”
Our Moment to Close the Gap
With just the Texas electorate as it was in 2018, there are multiple opportunities to boost our performance and narrow the statewide gap.
- Increasing turnout in communities of color – 525,000+ D votes
- Increasing turnout in Democratic base counties – 225,000+ D votes
- Increasing turnout in urban and suburban areas – 150,000+ D votes
- Engaging rural voters – 100,000+ D votes
Each strategy represents a solid step on the path to flipping Texas statewide, but will take hard work. Texas Democrats are committed to each path to netting more votes by making unprecedented investments and leveraging unparalleled enthusiasm across the state. We expanded on the demographic shifts in Texas in our first path to victory, and that data, for the most part, hasn’t changed. To review the communities we’re targeting and the data to support widespread demographic shifts, please click here.
We know where our voters live and we have strategies to close the statewide gap. Now, we must organize — we are planning, building, and executing the most ambitious coordinated campaign in Texas history.
With so many opportunities at every level — from the U.S. Senate to Congress, from the Texas Legislature to county commissioners courts — we are growing and developing our digital organizing capacity in every part of Texas.
AXIOS rates Texas a “tossup.”
Motivating voters who sometimes miss an election
In Texas, there are millions of registered Democratic voters who don’t always vote. In order to engage them in 2020, and create a lasting base of progressive voters in Texas, we must motivate every registered Texas Democrat to vote.
We will motivate Democrats by not only exposing the harm Republicans are doing, but speaking to the change Democrats are fighting for, and we must engage Democratic voters of color and Democrats in Republican districts (More on these strategies below).
A coordinated digital campaign as BIG as Texas
A fully integrated team effort.
The coordinated campaign will feature a fully integrated team effort — data, training, county party support, candidate services, and organizing — that will lift the vote for every Democratic candidate.
Our candidate services team is actively supporting the hundreds of Democratic candidates and nominees who are part of the statewide coordinated campaign.
Our data and tech team provides campaigns and progressive organizations data services, from our voter database TexasVAN to in-depth analysis identifying the voters we need to win. We have a team focused on building up county parties, a crucial part of our infrastructure coordinating efforts at the local level. Our training team works to ensure every volunteer, candidate, campaign staffer, and party leader has the practical knowledge they need to communicate with voters, run aggressive campaigns, and integrate with the broader coordinated campaign effort.
Organizing in the Time of the Coronavirus
The Texas Democratic Party has dramatically overhauled our organizing structure to be nimbler, more adaptive and more effective during the current COVID-19 pandemic, particularly by adopting a multi-layered, digital-first approach that meets voters where they are.
Texas Democrats’ organizers will grow their networks by aggressively recruiting and mobilizing volunteers within communities across Texas. By drawing in new volunteers and expanding our organizing networks using relational organizing strategies and tools, we can grow and strengthen our Democratic movement across the state.
Texas Democratic volunteers have for decades directed our efforts to other traditional battleground states, but that trend is reversing and reinforcements are coming. Now, more than ever, Democrats across the country are eager to get to work supporting our slate of Texas Democratic candidates. Our team of distributed organizers will recruit, train up and mobilize this pool of volunteers, and direct their efforts to the places where they will have the greatest impact.
Organizing in Online Spaces: ConnectTexas
At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as Texans were sheltering-in-place and struggling to adjust to this new reality, Texas Democrats sought to create a sense of community for people across the state. Thus, we launched ConnectTexas to allow people to connect directly with others locally and statewide, to communicate their needs, share resources, and create a sense of unity despite the uncertainty.
Since launching ConnectTexas, we have brought thousands of Texans together. And they are going beyond sharing information and resources. Volunteers are directing more and more of their energy to dialing, texting and messaging voters online.
Online Rapid Response Team
Our network of Texas Democrats who amplify our message have a key role to play in our digital organizing efforts going into November. On account of the shifts in our organizing strategies, Texas Democrats have scaled up our online rapid response efforts in order to create new online spaces, expand our team of online volunteers and increase the frequency of our broadcasts.
We will make a seven-figure digital ad investment in the following areas:
- Exposing the leadership failures of John Cornyn
- Encouraging folks to get registered to vote
- Getting out the vote
- Reaching communities of color online
In addition to our core constituencies, Texas Democrats will be targeting higher propensity unaligned voters, particularly in targeted State House and Congressional districts. Based on demographic shifts and trends in voter behavior, Texas Democrats are primed to expand our Democratic movement by bringing in independent voters disgusted with Trump’s Republican Party.
The heart of any campaign is the organizing effort. With dedicated staff engaging our AAPI, African-American, Latinx, LGBTQ, Millennial/Gen Z, Rural, and People with Disabilities communities. Our constituency organizers are focused on building coalitions within their constituencies, developing partner relationships, and implementing constituency-specific volunteer recruitment and engagement opportunities.
Black Constituency Organizing
Black voters are the backbone of the Democratic Party. Starting the week of July 27, we’re kicking off our coordinated campaign efforts with our Black Voters Matter initiative, a voter contact blitz designed to reach out to 1.5 million Black voters throughout the state. To accomplish this tremendous task, we will partner with critical allies statewide and locally, and while doing so elevate the voices of Black candidates and highlight their campaigns.
Another initiative of our Black constituency program is working with formerly incarcerated Texans, who are off-paper, to get their voting rights reinstated.
Latinx Constituency Organizing
Our Latinx has focused on two efforts: Poder Tejas — a branded initiative focused on creating a space for Latinx folks to organize online. By providing resources, information, and content in both English and Spanish, we connect with members of the community across social media and on our online community hub ConnectTexas. Pasa la Masa, another campaign, gives younger folks tools to register and organize members of their family, who may be older and primarily Spanish-speaking.
LGBTQ+ Constituency Organizing
For the first time, Texas Democrats have a dedicated organizer tasked with mobilizing LGBTQ+ Texas Democrats. We host virtual events with local leaders, educating the community about legislation and policies that disenfranchise LGBTQ+ Texans. By bringing folks together through relational organizing, our mobilization efforts are maximized, and no two organizations or volunteers are contacting the same voter twice.
People with Disabilities Constituency Organizing
Another first for Texas Democrats is a dedicated organizer who works alongside activists and community leaders to create space for people with disabilities to organize and mobilize their communities. By hosting events with local leaders, establishing relationships with people on the ground in regions across Texas, conducting research, and allocating resources to her constituency, our constituency organizer is establishing a trusting relationship between disabled Texans and the Texas Democratic Party.
A large part of establishing trust comes down to the investment the community sees from the State Party, and our constituency organizer builds trust by conducting wellness checks with folks in her constituency, providing informational resources, and pushing to make the digital space increasingly accessible — through closed captioning, adaptation of content with screen readers in mind, resource allocation, and message amplification.
Millennial/Gen Z Constituency Organizing
In order to engage Texas’ large population of young voters across the state, our Millennial/Gen Z constituency organizer gives young organizers the tools they need to get their communities mobilized and energized to vote for Democrats. For too long, young people have felt left out of the political process, but, alongside College Democrats groups across the state, our dedicated organizer facilitates voter registration pushes, hosts trainings, and ensures that young Texans who have moved away to college update their registration.
Rural Constituency Organizing
In our rural communities, our constituency organizing program is centered around messaging and voter education. Rural areas have been some of the hardest hit by Trump’s presidency. His abysmal record on trade, agriculture, education, and unemployment all have an outsized impact on rural Texans. Our Rural constituency organizer expands the Texas Democratic network by educating the voters about these issues. Working alongside our rural county parties, we hold virtual events, phone banks, weekly briefing calls, and trainings on relational organizing, and we often serve as a connector to bring folks together to accomplish shared objectives.
Persuading folks not satisfied with Trump Republicans to vote Democratic
It’s not only moderates and independents who have grown tired of living in Trump’s backward, tumultuous version of reality. Younger and voters of color are primed to end the Trump presidency.
Digital has always been critical to reach voters, especially younger voters and voters of color who tend to spend more time online, but its importance during the 2020 election due to COVID-19 cannot be overstated. According to The New York Times, internet usage is skyrocketing due to COVID-19. Specifically, Facebook usage increased over 25% and YouTube usage increased over 10%. Even as restrictions ease, it’s highly likely that field programs and voter communication will have to look substantially different than it has in the past; this will make reaching people online that much more important. That’s why, the Texas Democratic Party intends to bolster its digital ads strategy for the remainder of the election.
In the U.S. Senate race, our Democratic nominee MJ Hegar is poised to defeat John Cornyn in the fall. According to a new Quinnipiac Poll poll released in early June, John Cornyn’s at a 37% approval, 36% disapproval rating — four points lower than September. Since Donald Trump was elected, John Cornyn has furthered the president’s reckless policies, prejudiced logic, and devotion to special interests. It’s become clear to Texans that a vote for John Cornyn is a vote for Donald Trump.
Additionally, MJ’s campaign has seen unprecedented investment since the primary runoff election. Our Senate nominee raised over $1 million in one week following her nomination.
Alongside MJ’s campaign, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Texas Democrats will continue to expand our Democratic movement, protect & expand the vote, fight for the issues facing Texans, and expose John Cornyn’s reprehensible history of furthering his own political interests at the expense of Texas families.
Our Democratic nominee for the Texas Railroad Commission, Chrysta Castañeda has demonstrated that she will fight for the environmental issues facing our communities, and our state as a whole.
Donald Trump’s record on environmental policy has been absolutely horrendous. He has scaled back the traditional functions of the Environmental Protection Agency, which means our Texas Railroad Commission, tasked with regulating the oil and gas industry in Texas, will need to lead where Republicans have failed. We need the Texas Railroad Commission to enforce the laws we have protecting our air and water, finally address problematic practices like flaring, and provide much needed oversight.
Alongside Chrysta’s campaign, Texas Democrats will continue to shed light on the consequences of electing Republicans who have modeled their strategies off of Trump’s inaction.
Texas Supreme Court & Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
In May, the Texas Democratic Party announced that it was targeting four Texas Supreme Court seats after the Republican justices on the Texas Supreme Court ruled against expanding voting by mail — forcing Texas voters to head to the polls in the middle of a pandemic in order to cast their ballots in the primary runoff elections.
The Democratic nominees for Texas Supreme Court are Amy Clark Meachum, Kathy Cheng, Staci Williams, and Gisela Triana
The Democratic nominees for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals are Elizabeth Davis Frizell, Tina Clinton, and Brandon Birmingham
Texans know that Republican justices have constantly put blatant partisanship and special interests over the needs of everyday Texans. As voters headed to the polls to cast their ballot in the primary runoff election, they understood that Republicans exploited the coronavirus pandemic to limit access to the ballot box.
Alongside our Democratic nominees, Texas Democrats will continue to expose how the Texas Supreme Court has disenfranchised Texans again and again. It’s time we elect Democratic justices who will disavow special interests and partisan politics. We need leaders who will fight for the people.
State Board of Education
The statewide board determines how and sets the curriculum our children are taught in schools, and in doing so the power of the Texas SBOE spans the nation.
Given the tremendous purchasing power of Texas, our state has an outsized influence on national textbook publishers. Educators across the country still remain concerned with the needs of Texas schools, based on the fact that one in every 10 public school students in the country is in Texas. According to Texas Freedom Network, the Republican controlled SBOE once “pressured a publisher to replace a photo of a woman carrying a briefcase with another showing a woman putting a cake in the oven.” They have portrayed Joseph McCarthy as a hero, and sought to suppress the contributions of Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez.
For the first time in memory, Democrats have an opportunity to flip control of the Republican-led SBOE, with Democratic nominees running in 3 seats in single digits in 2018 — Rebecca Bell-Metereau in District 5, Michelle Palmer in District 6, and Marsha Burnett-Webster in District 10. With Betsy DeVos wreaking havoc at the helm of the Department of Education on the federal level, it is crucial that Texas Democrats elect officials to the State Board who won’t let hyperpartisanship and prejudiced logic dictate what’s taught in our classrooms.
In 2019, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced six of their 2020 targeted districts were in Texas — more than any other state. Republicans on the ballot like Dan Crenshaw and Chip Roy have proven to be some of the biggest supporters of the president — furthering his policy goals and justifying his prejudices. Texas Democrats know that in order to enact real change, we must defeat the elected officials who paved the way for the president’s abuse of power.
Texas Democrats have fielded strong candidates in every congressional district, including each nationally targeted district, and we work with their campaigns to mobilize voters, register new Texans, and organize our communities online.
By targeting voters in each of these districts, and keeping up the pressure in every Republican-held district, Texas Democrats intend to expand our Congressional majority and enact change in the U.S. Congress. We will defeat the down ballot Trump cronies who have empowered their donor allies at the expense of Texans, and the American people.
Texas House + Texas Senate
Back in January, Texas Democrats, alongside the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, announced the State House Districts we’re targeting this November. Twenty-two Republican-held seats were won by less than ten points by the top of the ticket in 2018. We are targeting every single one of these seats in 2020. Together, Texas Democrats and allied organizations, like the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, have developed a modern and unprecedented data-driven strategy, which includes a robust allied digital organizing infrastructure, candidate support services, and cutting edge technology. We are strategically channeling critical resources into Republican-held districts that, based on significant changes to demographics and electoral trends, are likely to flip from red to blue.
This is the year we will break Republicans’ supermajority in the Texas Senate. Alongside our Democratic nominees, Texas Democrats will invest in our key Texas Senate races and provide our nominees with the resources we need to close the statewide gap.
Protecting access to the ballot and making it easier to vote
Republicans have tried it all: blocking the expansion of vote-by-mail during the coronavirus pandemic; implementing the most onerous voter registration process in the country; ending mobile voting and disenfranchising seniors in nursing homes and students on campus; and ending straight ticket voting for the sole purpose of lengthening lines in urban counties, discouraging Democrats and suppressing the votes.
And in 2020 we’ve met them head-on. We have the most sophisticated voter protection program in the nation. We have taken Republicans to court to challenge their attempts to limit access to the ballot box. Our Voter Assistance Hotline volunteers have already answered thousands of voters’ questions.
We’re teaming up with Democratic lawyers and allies to file lawsuits to block voter suppression or intimidations as they happen. And every occasion of voter suppression or intimidation will be noted and filed away for future legal challenges and court cases around redistricting.
Expanding the electorate and laying the groundwork to make it easier to vote is the first critical step to flipping Texas. The Texas Democratic Party is committed to protecting and expanding the vote through several programs:
- Maintain our voter information hub MyTexasVotes.com, our Voter Assistance Hotline 844-TX -VOTES, and our online voter registration portal RegisterTexas.com.
- Send hundreds of thousands of vote-by-mail applications to eligible voters across Texas.
- Work with county liaisons and election officials to ensure adequate and safe polling places and opportunities to vote. The state government has left our election officials with minimal guidance and support.
- Recruit and support election workers. We need more election workers than ever because there are new safety-related roles and many traditional election workers are at high risk.
- Recruit and train poll watchers to serve as voters’ advocates at the polling place and ensure things are running smoothly.
Looking forward to November, the goal is to have 2 million unregistered Democratic voters added to the rolls.
Investment & Conclusion
Change has arrived in Texas — a new wave of activists and progressive candidates demand it. They’re fired up about affordable healthcare, financing public schools, and, most importantly, a fair shot for all Texans. Our Democratic nominees up and down the ballot are fighting for the issues facing Texans, and through our robust voter protection efforts and expansive digital organizing strategy, we will turn Texas blue up and down the ballot.
What can you do right now?
Donate. This is going to take all of us. This work only happens because of supporters like you chipping in what you can to your Texas Democratic Party.
Volunteer. The Texas Democratic Party is building a coordinated campaign as big as the size of Texas. Sign up to volunteer right now.
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