Fresh off victories in the 2012 election, the Democratic Party is embarking on ambitious plans to solidify its dominance in national elections for decades to come. Texas appears to be ground zero for this project.
According to unnamed sources who spoke to Politico, the national Democratic Party plans to spend tens of millions of dollars over the next several years to help Democrats in that state win elections. The project, called "Battleground Texas," will use some of the same strategies pioneered by the Obama campaign team to mobilize blacks and Latinos who have mostly stayed home on election days.
If Democrats are able to win Texas' 38 Electoral College votes, the second highest after California's 55, it would be almost guaranteed to win the presidency, assuming the party holds its current solid blue states.
The Democrats already have California and New York, whose 29 electors is tied with Florida for the third most electors, solidly in their camp. The swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania (20 electors) have gone to the Democrats in both of Obama's victories. Plus, Obama won Virginia, a formerly solid Republican state, twice.
Combined with the other solid blue states, if Texas were to become a reliable Democratic state, along with Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia, Democrats would have 301 electors, well above the 270 need to win the presidency.
Shannon Bow, a political science professor who teaches classes on Texas government at the University of Texas at Austin, told The Christian Post that Republican strength in Texas is usually overstated and the state is already close to becoming a swing state.
One reason that Republicans have had a strong hold on Texas, Bow added, is that the national Democratic Party had previously given up on the state and did not devote many resources to help Democrats win there.
"Battleground Texas" would likely need to include plans to win, not just the Electoral College, but state government, U.S. House and U.S. Senate races.
For Democrats to be successful, the party needs to start by winning state races, Bow said, because the state government controls redistricting, as well as key appointments. "If the Democrats want to flip this state for a long term hold over Texas government, they need to look at the larger picture and not just think about winning Electoral College votes every four years," Bow explained.
Redistricting in Texas has helped Republicans win U.S. House races. Texas Republicans even re-redistricted after the redistricting that followed the 2000 census, in order to gain U.S. House seats. (The Supreme Court ruled this move was constitutional.) So, taking control of the Texas state government could conceivably help Democrats take back the U.S. House even before the redistricting that will take place before the 2022 election.
In a Tuesday speech before the Ripon Society, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) noted that President Barack Obama needs control of the U.S. House in order to accomplish all of the ambitious agenda he set forth in his inauguration speech.
"So we're expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me tell you, I do believe that is their goal. To just shove us in the dustbin of history," Boehner said.
It is unlikely, though, that the Democratic Party can both win Texas and move in a more liberal direction. Any Democrats that are able to win a statewide race in Texas are likely to be more moderate than the national Democratic Party.
Plus, advancing a more liberal agenda would create difficulties for other moderate Democrats. There are five Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014 in states that Obama lost – Mary Landrieu (La.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Tim Johnson (S.D.) and Max Baucus (Mont.). Moving too far left could cause these senators, along with several conservative Democrats in the House, to lose their seats.