The lead-up to Election Night always gets somewhat ridiculous. The media takes sides in a desperate attempt to claim that they’re the next oracle of political predictions. This is typical and expected.
Take Paul Burka, acclaimed political journalist and writer for Texas Monthly, who in a short 2 paragraph article, cemented his views on the Lone Star State’s newest political firestorm, Battleground Texas.
Battleground Texas, the organization chosen by the Obama White House to “turn Texas blue,” proved to have been nothing more than a mirage. In fact, Battleground did more to sabotage the Democratic effort — unintentionally — than to support it, thanks to Jeremy Bird, Battleground’s leader. Bird produced a memo claiming major gains by Democrats, which he published. Unfortunately for Bird, his numbers were erroneous, allowing Republicans to enjoy a big laugh at Battleground’s expense.
I’m not surprised, because the major activity of Battleground was to issue press releases taking credit for X direct contacts with voters and Y phone calls. In the end, Battleground has little to show for its efforts. Democratic sources now acknowledge that Battleground provided nothing useful to the Davis campaign. The result is that the state Democratic party suffered another blow to its credibility.
At least the one fact that Mr. Burka presents cannot be disputed… Jeremy Bird, the founder of Battleground Texas, did indeed release a somewhat epic fail suggesting that Early Vote turnout has skyrocketed. In reality, Early Voting is actually down… 15,858 fewer votes cast in the state’s 15 largest counties from the high water mark of 2010.
Of course 2014 was always meant to be a big gamble for the brand new organization. It’s hard to judge any business or group on just their first year of operations. But still the fact remains that after registering over half a million new voters, it hasn’t seemed to move the needle on early vote, right??
Not so fast… a little history here. Texas Leftist compiled a chart which shows Early Voting in Gubernatorial election years from 1998 to 2014 just so we can compare…
(Data compiled from the Texas Secretary of State website)
As you can see, 2010 was a really high watermark. From 2006 to 2010, Early Voting nearly doubled in the state of Texas. Why? Because 2010 was an exceptional, find-every-TEApublican-on-earth-and-get-them-to-vote-because-it’s-the-end-of-the-world-OBAMACARE DEATH PANELS year. Republican turnout exploded off the charts, and that is what drove up overall turnout.
Which naturally leads us to ask another question: Absent all of the craziness of 2010, what is motivating those same GOP voters to come to the polls this year?? We could say Dan Patrick, with his Rush Limbaugh style politics and constant readiness to whip up the base, but that would be inaccurate. As Leticia Van de Putte has pointed out on several occasions, Patrick is basically in hiding from voters. It’s sure not Greg Abbott, whom waited very late in the game to do any true attacks on Davis. Even now, the worst he’s put out is a poor comparison to Barack Obama, and a charge that Davis is… wait for it… unethical. Most voters assume as much about every politician, so that’s not going to stop her voters from showing up.
So without being scared into oblivion, are not Republican base voters just as enthused about pushing Abbott over the finish line as Democrats are for Wendy Davis, so that he can basically continue the policy agenda of Governor Rick Perry?
Is it at all possible that the miracle achieved by Democrats and BGTX was to simply hold the line at even close to 2010 levels? And if they’re fanning the flames of enthusiasm, is it possible that the people showing up to the polls are a very different electorate than 2010?
If you follow the trend line of expected Early Voting turnout, and exempt 2010, Texas should be at roughly 1.15 million early voters, 1.3 million at absolute best. Something is causing turnout to “stay” at those historically high levels.
There’s just no way to be sure until we get answers tomorrow. But unlike Paul Burka, Texas Leftist isn’t ready to throw in the towel. With 32,000 volunteers working day and night in every corner of the state, it’s quite possible that Democrats will have some good news in one day’s time.
The only thing left to do is go and vote. Don’t throw dirt on their grave just yet.