Winning elections is a science, but not rocket science. The GOP in Texas has figured it out

“How did they do it? To find out, I talked with James Dickey, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas from June 2017 to July 2020. The answer is not rocket science, but it involved a lot of hard work, careful analysis, and breaking with tradition to meet two goals: recruit a broad pool of attractive candidates up and down the ticket, and aggressively push for the registration of new voters.

How Texas Republicans Kept Their State Red

Editorial by Stephen Frank, Exclusive to the California Political News and Views , 12/12/10 

Contest Every Race

Candidate recruitment was an important element to winning local and congressional races. Contesting so many races also helped drive turnout of Republican voters in every corner of the state, even in Democratic strongholds.”

How does California match up to the winning formula of Texas?

  1.  NO voter registration effort from the California Republican Party since March, 2013.
  2. The March primary found 20 seats for Assembly, State Senate and Congress had no GOP candidate.  The November election had 25 such seats without a GOP’er.
  3. We started too late to recruit the best candidates

As an example of the problem of registration look at these races:

In SD 37  John Moorlach lost by 12,000 votes.  Yet since January, 2019, the Democrats with a registration program, registered 27,000 NEW Democrats in his district.

In SD 27, Ling Ling Chang lost by 11,000, Yet since January, 2019, the Democrats with a registration program, registered 15,000 NEW Democrats in her district.

In CD 25, Mike Garcia won by about 400.  Yet since January, 2019, the Democrats with a registration program, registered 15,000 NEW Democrats.

In CD 21, David Valadao won by about 3,000 votes. Yet since January, 2019, the Democrats with a registration program, registered 4600 NEW Democrats.

From September 4, 2020 60 day close to October 19,2020 there was 202,247 new GOP registration—without a program.

In the same time period, the Democrats, with a registration program, gained, 310,740 registrants.

So, in just 45 days, the Democrats gained ANOTHER  108,493 voters over the GOP.

Any wonder we are losing?  The Texas GOP registers voters—the California Republican Party doesn’t.  How many elections did we lose because of this?  How much more did we have to spend to win elections, because of this?

When looking at the California election results, remember voter registration—Texas wins, California loses.

How Texas Republicans Kept Their State Red

By Dan McLaughlin, National Review,  11/13/20 

No political majority is permanent; some are built on stronger ground than others, but keeping a majority eventually requires shaking off complacency and getting to work. Ever since George W. Bush, Rick Perry, and Karl Rove turned Texas into a Republican stronghold in the 1990s, culminating with flipping the Texas House to Republican control in the 2002 elections for the first time since Reconstruction, there have been two lingering critiques of the state’s dominant Republican majority. The first is turnout: Texas typically has the lowest turnout of eligible voters in the nation. In 2016, for example, national voter turnout was 60.1 percent of all eligible voters; in Texas, it was 51.2 percent. Democrats complained that Texas was not really a Republican state, just a low-turnout state. The other is demographics: With each passing year, Texas becomes more urban and less white. Surely, the doomsayers said, the day will come when all those missing voters will finally show up at the polls and combine with the state’s shifting demographics to turn Texas blue. On that day, the fatal blow will be dealt to the foundation of any national Republican coalition.

In 2018, that day seemed almost ready to arrive, with Ted Cruz winning by just 2.6 points statewide and straight-ticket Democratic voting ousting many Republican incumbents (particularly judges) down the ticket. An August 2019 Politico headline warned, “Texas Republicans brace for 2020 drubbing.” In 2020, Democrats spent over $55 million in Texas, and turnout surged, topping 60 percent of all eligible voters for the first time this century. More than 11 million Texans voted in 2020, up from 6.4 million in 2000, 8 million in 2012, and just under 9 million in 2016. Would this be the day of reckoning?

It wasn’t. A high-turnout election proved good news for Texas Republicans, dispelling the idea that low turnout alone was what made Texas red. Republicans held the line statewide and made some significant gains down the ballot. Donald Trump, John Cornyn, railroad commissioner Jim Wright, and the seven Republican judicial candidates on the statewide ballot each got more votes in Texas in 2020 than there were Texans who voted in the entire 1996 election. Joe Biden added 1.33 million votes to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 total, but Trump added 1.18 million to his own. No Republican lost a statewide race, and all 23 Republican-held House seats were retained. Republicans held open seats in the 22nd district (by 7, after it was rated a pre-election toss-up), 23rd (by 4.2, after it was rated “leans Democratic”) and 24th (by 1.3; it was also rated “leans Democratic”). Republicans held the Texas house too.

How did they do it? To find out, I talked with James Dickey, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas from June 2017 to July 2020. The answer is not rocket science, but it involved a lot of hard work, careful analysis, and breaking with tradition to meet two goals: recruit a broad pool of attractive candidates up and down the ticket, and aggressively push for the registration of new voters.

Contest Every Race

Candidate recruitment was an important element to winning local and congressional races. Contesting so many races also helped drive turnout of Republican voters in every corner of the state, even in Democratic strongholds. Republicans ran 3,118 candidates across Texas (including candidates for all 36 House seats), compared to 1,873 Democrats, leaving the fewest Democratic incumbents unchallenged in Texas history. Dickey credited Cat Parks (since elected the party’s vice chair) for helping recruit a “young, dynamic, diverse pool of candidates.” The party encouraged candidates and their staff to attend training sessions by the Leadership Institute, and had over 1,300 paid attendees from Texas.

Find New Voters

Recruiting candidates had not previously happened at that level, but it was not a new task for Texas Republicans. Registering new voters was. For years, the state party did not really consider voter registration its job, contenting itself with organic growth of the electorate. There was, perhaps, a creeping suspicion that maybe the Democrats were right: Maybe it was better not to poke the bear of non-voters, because a real commitment by Democrats to voter registration would swamp any Republican effort. But Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 campaign showed that Democrats were already fully engaged, and Dickey was determined to get Republicans into the voter-registration game, too. In the aftermath of the 2018 election losses in the House and gubernatorial races across the country, the Republican National Committee also got newly serious about voter registration. None other than Karl Rove stepped up to raise the funds needed to support the Texas effort.

The prototypical Democratic registration drive can rely on a lot of low-hanging fruit: Set up tables on college campuses and at concerts, have popular-culture figures and publications hector their liberal fan bases to sign up, host drives at black churches, etc. Republican registration drives, however, are harder work, because the party traditionally relies so heavily on settled adults who are already registered, and because potential Republican voters are not so highly concentrated by geography, age, or race. Finding new Republicans, therefore, is a three-step effort.

The first step is finding non-voters, including people who may have moved and not updated their registrations. For interstate moves, the national party maintains and circulates quarterly a “new mover list” of people who have filed a change of address and were registered Republicans, voters in Republican primaries, Republican donors, or otherwise identified as likely Republican voters in their old states. On top of that list, the Texas party scours publicly available consumer-data files (magazine subscriptions, credit applications, etc.) to compare with the voter rolls and find adults who were not registered to vote at that address.

The second step is figuring out which of those non-registered voters to target for a registration drive. Some of the markers are easy enough: Donors to liberal causes are unlikely to be Republicans, while people with hunting licenses likely are. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of data points in the public domain or commercially available data that can be analyzed in combination, and while they may not predict the voting patterns of any individual, taken together, they can provide a highly accurate estimate of likely partisanship across a large group of people. A particular target was the fast-growing areas around Dallas–Fort Worth.

The third step is making contacts: phone calls, mailers, texts. Sometimes people tell the party bluntly that they are not Republicans, but that at least saves labor. At the end of the road, the party signs up new voters and works on turning them out.

The results were dramatic. Some 2.7 million new voters were registered in Texas between 2014 and 2020, 1.1 million of those just in the past two years. While some of that was organic growth and some was the Democrats’ drives, the Republican effort yielded 186,000 new voters. And a very high proportion of those voted in the 2020 election, many in places with hotly contested races. While it is, of course, not possible to know how any individual voter voted, Dickey believes that the new voters made the difference in a number of races. He has already taken his approach to Nevada, and is looking to other states to replicate the Texas model.

Of course, as Dickey is careful to note, registration and recruitment efforts are only part of the story; Texas Republicans could not have won so many races “without door knocking, phone banking, volunteer work, and a lot of great candidates.” And the national environment helped, too. Trump, who had struggled with Texas voters before, made serious inroads of his own, winning 14 of the 28 counties that Hillary Clinton carried along the Mexican border. Trump flipped Zapata County, which Hillary had won by 33, and lost by just 5 in Starr County, which Hillary won by 60. Many of those voters were not down-ballot Republican voters and were driven by the issues, rhetoric, and personalities of the national Trump–Biden race.

The fight to keep Texas red is not over; nothing ever is. But the 2020 election proved that Texas Republicans were ready to dare Democrats: “Come and Take It.”

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. michelle benitez says

    Ya know, it is easier said than done. First of all, we are worker bees so we work. We are not getting free schooling and laying around like the Sec 8 and welfare recipients. Second, we are not paid by George Soros type. Third, the DMV is registering on their website when you have to get a drivers licence or ID.
    And fourth, when we do set up tables, ( if we are given permission by the establishment/store), we have to try to get more than one volunteer that is willing to stand up to the thugs and domestic terrorists that wull try to beat us up and down……..
    JUST SAYIN’

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