The Analysis of Texas Political Scene and Parties

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Prior to diving into whether Beto O’Rourke or Julian Castro could beat Trump in the upcoming 2020 elections, we must examine the history and current state of Texas politics and the reasons for a possible Electrol College win for democrats. When we think of Texas, what comes to our mind are ranches, cattle and generally rural country. It is also known that people from rural areas tend to be more conservative and are not easily adaptable to changes These attributes fit well with Republicans while democrats congregate in cities, more educated and more acceptable to changes. Although this may not be a hard and fast rule, elections in the recent times strongly support this data. Texas is no exception to this theory or belief. Therefore, with some certainty, we can consider Texas as a strong republican state or a Red state.

To a question “was Texas always this way?” the answer is No. For approximately 99 years, from after Reconstruction until the 1990s, the Democratic Party dominated Texas politics. As in any southern state, culture of the state was heavily influenced by the culture of the old south that was dependent on African American labor and the Patron system that was in northern Mexico and South Texas. In these societies the government's primary role was seen as being the preservation of social order. Solving of individual problems in society was seen as a local problem with the expectation that the individual with wealth should resolve his or her own issues. This may explain the reasons for Texas' traditionally low voter turnout among whites to these influences during that time. From 1848 until President Eisenhower’s victory in 1952, Texas voted for the Democratic candidate for president in every election except in 1928.

But beginning in the early 20th century, it started changing. Voter turnout was dramatically reduced by the state legislature's right to vote of most blacks, and many poor whites and Latinos through imposition of the poll tax and white primaries. The voter turnout in Texas declined dramatically due to these restrictions and as a result, voting turnout was far below the national average. In addition, Texas democratic leders were not united More conservative democrats shifted to the become republicans thereby weakening the Democratic Party. The last president that won Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976. Although in 1992 presidential election, Bill Clinton won the Oval Office and lost Texas electoral votes. This result significantly reduced the power of Texas Democrats at the national level.

In a continuing downward trend for the Democrats, in 2002, Texas Republicans gained control of the Texas House of Representatives for the first time. The newly elected Republican legislature masterminded a redistricting plan arguing that it was much needed corrective measure after the 1990 census. In 2004 elections, it resulted in a gain of six seats by the Republicans. It also gave giving them a majority of the state's delegation for the first time since Reconstruction. A small win for the democrat’s occued when the Supreme Court intervened. It ruled the that El Paso to San Antonio 23rd District, which had been a protected majority-Latino district until the 2003 redistricting, was unconstitutional. The ruling forced nearly every district in the El Paso-San Antonio corridor to be reconfigured. Partly due to this, Democrats picked up two seats in the state in the 2006 elections. The 23rd's Republican incumbent was defeated in this election. It was the first time a Democratic House challenger unseated a Texas Republican incumbent in 10 years.

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Changing Demographics

Hispanic population has continued to increase. In 2011, 38.1% of the state population is Hispanic compared to 44.8% for non-Hispanic whites. The state's changing demographics may result in a change in its overall political alignment, as most Hispanic and Latino voters support the Democratic Party. In addition to the descendants of the state's former slave population, the African American population in Texas is also increasing due to the New Great Migration. Many of them support the Democratic Party. In 2018, Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke lost his Senate bid to the incumbent Ted Cruz by about 200,000 votes. However, this marks a significant gain for Democrats in the state. Beto’s performance in the 2018 Senate race has shaken the belief Red Texas. We can call this as the beginning of the cracks in the GOP control of Texas. Political analysts are predicting greater gains for the Democrats going into the 2020's.

Given the history, demographics and the current state of the Texas politics, the Democratic Party has not made a serious organizational effort to mobilize and build a Latino voter turnout. Additionally, Democrats will likely face a growing need to expand their inroads in Texas that tend to be younger, racially diverse, and white-collar. Given the right candidate, the Democratic Party can turn Texas Blue again. Let’s examine the two candidates who are capable of achieving the goal.

'Beto' O'Rourke is an American businessman and politician who served on El Paso city Council from 2005 to 2011 and represented Texas 16th congressional district for three terms in the United States House of Representatives. A native of El Paso Texas, Beto served on the arms and veterans committees and declined to seek re-election to the House in 2018 and instead ran for U.S. Senate. As the 2018 democratic U.S senate nominee, O'Rourke was narrowly defeated the republican incumbent Senator, Ted Cruz. There was energy in his campaign and as a result Beto O'Rourke has clearly emerged as a leader in Texas on various issues. As he was considering the 2018 senate entry, many political pundits considered him as a “Long Shot” candidate. His command of issues that face Texans and his eagerness to reach out to all Texans made him one of the most impressive candidates. By contrast, his Republican challenger had not addressed the needs of his fellow Texans. Beto was considered the future of Texas. Although on November 6, 2018, Ted Cruz defeated Beto there was only three percent points loss for Beto. Beto received four million votes and it demonstrated the effective campaign and mobilization effort by him. Some considered this as a foundation for a presidential bid in 2020.

He also backs the universal health care system that covers everyone in the country. In order to move toward this system, he has said that the Affordable Care Act should offer Medicare and Medicaid. Beto has also spoken against President Donald Trump's proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and against Trump's recent decision to send National Guard troops to patrol the border. He wants Congress to pass legislation preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects from deportation people illegally brought to the country as children. O'Rourke wants to ban assault weapons and supports introducing universal background checks, which would require people to have a federal background check for most gun sales. Beto has worked hard on veteran issues to improve the availability of mental health care for former service members. O'Rourke is pro-abortion rights and has argued that efforts by lawmakers in Texas to close women's health clinics has made it harder for women to access basic health care, not just abortion services. He fought to pass legislation that would protect El Paso's Castner Range from development. Due to his efforts, the 7,081-acre mountain range cannot be used for commercial enterprise, roads or vehicles. In 2011, he wrote a book with fellow City Council member Susie Byrd titled 'Dealing Death and Drugs.' It specifically examines the drug trade in Juarez and argues that the war on drugs waged by the U.S. government is ineffective and has only made dealers wealthier and facilitated violence. It argues that legalizing marijuana would undermine cartels and drastically reduce drug-related violence in Mexico.

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro has also an interesting story to tell. He is very well educated and a Latino. Hispanics are the fastest growing big block of power in the Democratic Party, especially in Texas. He was elected Mayor of San Antonio in 2009 at the age of 35. He served as mayor for five years until he became Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama. In 2012, Mayor Castro was the first Latino to give the keynote address at a national political convention. In addition to his appeal to Hispanic voters, Castro could also mobilize the growing number of millennial Democrats. It's difficult to imagine Trump's re-election without Texas' 38 Electoral College votes. The GOP being in trouble in Texas, a surge in Latino turnout could tip the balance in favor of Democrats. Trump's attitude toward Latinos could be the key to improving prospects for a Democratic candidate to win the electoral votes of Texas. Castro has also been vocal in his support for a mobilization by the Democrats to reach out to Latino voters. Similar to Obama energizing the turnout of African American voters, Castro could similarly boost Latino participation. To win Texas, just the Latino vote may not be enough. Castro will also need to energize millennial voters. As a young Latino man from a San Antonio Castro could try to make the case that his experience leading the nation’s seventh-largest city could be the right step for America’s future. As the former president Obama remained very popular among Democrats, Castro can use his experience in Obama’s Cabinet to claim some of that legacy in his own campaign.

We must look at Castro’s level of political experience. On one hand, he is a relatively fresh face and democrats may want someone new and young to face Trump. However, Castro might have too little experience. Although he served as San Antonio’s mayor for five years and Obama’s HUD secretary for two and a half years, he’s never run for statewide office in Texas and it’s not clear where he stands on a lot of major issues. His relative lack of experience probably played a role in Clinton’s choice to not pick him as her running mate in 2016, and it could be an issue for him as a presidential candidate also.

From past elections and experiences, there is also an Electability argument that we must consider. Although the Democratic Party is increasingly diverse and its voters show reduced level of racial resentment, it doesn’t necessarily mean voters are ready to elect a Latino candidate. Democrats may need a White and probably a male candidate in order to defeat Trump in the general elections. Texas is important and has 38 important Electrol votes. It would be very difficult for Trump to win a second term without Texas in the republican column. Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign captured national attention that may become a good foundation for a possible presidential campaign. Beto raised nearly $80 million for his Senate race and slightly over half of the contributions came from Texas. With the changing demographics, Beto can also mobilize the Latino and other millennium voters. Given all the above facts, if beto were to be on the democratic ticket, in my opinion, he stands a much better chance of beating Trump in the 2020 general elections.

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