Data Includes: How the Pandemic Prevented Texas Democrats from Identifying Our Targeted Voters, How Texas Republicans Increased Their Electorate, and What Happened with the Latino Vote in Texas
Austin, Texas — Today, the Texas Democratic Party unveiled our 2020 post-election data analysis delving into what happened in the 2020 election: the trends, numbers, and data behind the results in Texas. Additionally, we’re sharing preliminary analysis on how Texas Democrats can continue our ascent as the biggest battleground state in the country and flip the state.
Texas Democrats have a lot to be proud of in the 2020 election. With little national investment, President Biden became the closest Democrat to flip Texas at the Presidential level in 25 years. Texas Democrats came within 11,500 votes of flipping the Texas House, and we increased our vote total by 1.3 million voters — equating to the second-highest amount of growth in Democratic vote share in the country since 2012.
Still, Texas Democrats failed to reach our goals. Due to a surge in spending in the final months before the election and a willingness to knock doors in the midst of the pandemic, Republican registration outpaced Democratic registration efforts by 26,000 net votes over the course of the 2020 election cycle.
The analysis also shows:
Texas Democrats GOTV efforts failed to activate voters to the same extent as Republicans;
The lack of in-person voter registration and campaigning significantly hampered our chances to flip the state — Texas Democrats and Texas Democratic campaigns were unable to successfully connect with critical portions of our base: particularly young voters and voters of color;
For the most part, Latino voters continue to support Texas Democrats; however, Republicans did a better job turning out their Latino base better than we did. In particular, we need to find better methods of connecting with Latino voters in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley;
There was a late surge of newly registered Texas Republicans in the last three months of the cycle, during which Texas Republicans earned a net 88,000 votes solely by outperforming Democratic registration efforts;
It is also equally important to note that Republicans won the turnout battle for one major reason: Democrats rely on voter contact work to drive turnout. The lack of in-person canvassing hampered our ability to do voter contact work and a lack of reliable phone data made it challenging for Texas Democrats to reach individuals via the tools still available, mainly through text messages and phone calls.
When we are able to reach folks and have genuine, human-to-human conversations whether on the phone or in person, we know voters are more likely to make their voice heard and vote for Texas Democrats. This is especially true of folks with limited voting histories or new voters. When we successfully engaged these newer or less consistent voters, they tended to have a 4-6% increase in their likelihood of turning out. However, our ability to reach voters was limited by the phone numbers we had access to. Our phonebanks failed to reach many Texans, but especially renters, younger folks, and folks of color.
Moving forward, the Texas Democratic Party is developing actionable plans to keep Texas on track to flip in 2022 and 2024. These plans include:
Investing heavily in direct voter contact as early and as much as possible. As soon as it is safe, Texas Democrats plan on knocking on doors across the state.
Building a robust voter registration program. We must reverse the gains made by Republicans in 2020. Statewide orgs, county parties and campaigns need to further expand the electorate by getting folks registered and making it both safe and easy for them to cast their ballot.
Building and expanding on our organizing program. Fieldwork helps us find persuadable voters. Listening to people who make up our party helps us understand the needs of our communities and increases the likelihood of inconsistent or new voters to make their voices heard in elections.
Turning out more Latino voters. The analysis shows that roughly 65% of Latino voters in Texas are Democrats, but Latino voters are not a monolith. In the Rio Grande Valley, Trump received an increase in support but in most of Texas, there is only weak evidence for Latino voters being persuaded to support Republicans. The larger part of the story in 2020 was that Latino Democrats did not keep up with the spike in Latino Republican turnout.
Texas is still the biggest battleground state in the country. As soon as it is safe, we will get back to using our most important tool to reach voters: face-to-face conversations. With an emphasis on registering and turning out voters and resources we need to compete, Texas Democrats are still on track to flip the state in 2022 and 2024.
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“Texas is still the biggest battleground state in the country. The path forward for Texas Democrats is clear: we must continue to register voters and build the type of field operation that meets voters where they are.
“When it comes to Latino voters, analysis shows that Latino voters are core to the Texas Democratic Party. Latinos support Democrats over Republicans two to one in Texas. Republicans maxed out Latino Republicans while Latino Democrats stayed home. That must change and is central to our path to victory in Texas.
“More than anything, the analysis shows that Texas is still ripe for the taking in 2022 and 2024. We need sustained investment now to begin our efforts to flip the state. Now is not the time to abandon Texas, it is the time to double down and help us fund our efforts. Our path forward could not be more clear. We can flip the state and win statewide and local elections in Texas is now closer than ever for Texas Democrats.”
Texas Democratic Party CTO John Elson issued the following statement:
“Our data team is the best data team in the country. Our analysis shows that there are clear challenges for Texas Democrats, but it also shows a clear path forward. If we do the work and begin to invest in field and voter registration efforts now, we can close the gap and flip the state in the coming years.
“It is going to take an all-hands-on-deck effort, but Texas Democrats are still on track to flip the state. The lack of in-person campaigning in 2020 hurt Texas Democrats by not allowing us to identify persuadable voters, forcing us to rely on outdated phone information that did not account for the fundamental shift in the Texas electorate and hampered our GOTV efforts allowing Texas Republicans to beat us among late registering voters. These are all fixable issues.
“I thank our extraordinary Data Science Director Hudson Cavanagh for putting together this analysis and giving the Texas Democratic Party a clear mandate of where the Party needs to go. The time to invest in Texas is now and our time to flip the state is still right in front of us.”