Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Is the Lone Star State Turning Back To Blue?

I've been saying for several years now that the current GOP dominance of Texas is a temporary thing because of the Lone Star State's longer history as a bastion of progressive populist politics and the cyclical nature of politics in general.

A recent DSCC poll conducted from April 11-15, 2007 of 800 registered likely voters has some interesting findings. The polls plus-minus error rate was 3.5%

*Texas voters give President George W. Bush a negative job rating (47% positive – 51% negative) and they are split in their opinion as to whether their family would be better off with a Democratic or Republican majority in the United States Senate (41% Democrats – 43% Republicans).

* A strong plurality of Texas voters believes the country is headed in the wrong direction (34% right direction – 49% wrong direction). Voters give President Bush an even more negative job rating on his handling of Iraq (41% positive – 57% negative).

* Republican John Cornyn has lower than expected name recognition for an incumbent US Senator, with 40% of the electorate unable to rate Cornyn either favorably or unfavorably. Overall, Senator Cornyn’s favorability rating is 41% favorable – 19% unfavorable.

* Senator Cornyn’s re-elect vote preference against a generic Democrat is under 50% (47% Republican John Cornyn - 38% Democratic candidate - 15% undecided).

With 2008 being a presidential election year could Texas finally be carried by a Democrat for the first time since Jimmy Carter accomplished the feat in 1976?

Cornyn's plummeting popularity coincides with a long overdue resurgence in the Texas Democratic Party. In the November 2006 elections they sent former US reps Nick Lampson and Ciro Rodriguez back to Congress. The most delicious part of Lampson's victory is that he now represents the congressional district of the man who in 2003 Delaymandered him and five Democrats out of office during an unprecedented and contentious mid-year partisan redistricting.

That midyear redistricting resulted in the Democratic House and Senate contingents relocating to Oklahoma and New Mexico in order to deny the Republicans a quorum to conduct business. The GOP-controlled Lege couldn't come to consensus on what to do about Texas public school financing system despite being under a court ordered deadline to fix it, but Governor Rick Perry in order to do Delay's bidding called two special sessions specifically for the redistricting issue over the objections of many Texans.

Six new Democratic state representatives were elected to whittle the GOP margin down to 81-69 and put them within striking distance of regaining the Texas House. They also swept local, judicial and county races in Dallas and Hays counties. Last weekend a DSCC fundraising event in Austin raked in an astounding $1.1 million from supporters throughout the state. Back in my home county, according to the most recent credible polling data more Harris County voters call themselves Democrats than Republicans by a 43% to 33% margin.

It's positive trends like this across the state that have Texas Democrats energized. They are determined to take the Lone Star State back from the peeps that ruined it in the first place.

Many Texans are weary of 13 years of total Republican control of state government that has brought massive debt, scandal, reactionary policies and inaction on many issues. They remember how the late Ann Richards as governor from 1990-1994 efficiently erased a $6 billion debt, turned it into a $2 billion surplus, had the most inclusive administration in Texas history and through her magnetic personality got several major companies to relocate their corporate headquarters to Texas in just a single term.

Texas is also considering legislation to move the 2008 primary date up from early March to February 5. With Texas being a major electoral vote rich state, moving up the primary date would force presidential candidates of both parties to spend more time actually campaigning in The Lone Star State instead of treating it like a political ATM machine.

For national Democrats to continue their momentum toward becoming the majority party they have to get Texas back in the game. The Texas Democratic Party has to channel the spirit of great Texas women such as Ann Richards, Billie Carr and Barbara Jordan. They also need to combine it with the political courage of Ralph Yarborough and Barbara Jordan's rock solid ethics.

They've also got to be in it to win it. Texas Dems can't be 'scurred' to articulate their message against peeps whose 'proven conservative leadership' campaign mantra only proves how well they muck up things and gay bait to cover it up. Never again should an election happen in which every top statewide office went uncontested as it did to my disgust in 2000.

It looks like they may finally be doing just that. It couldn't have happened at a better time.

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