I don’t normally make a big deal out of a single poll because there could be rounding errors, or it could be an outlier, or there could be flaws in the methodology, but a result revealed in this particular poll made me perk up. A recent Washington Post/Survey Monkey poll shows a number of states placed in the ‘tossup’ category that wouldn’t usually be there. This category includes states that were previously purple like Ohio and Florida, but also Mississippi and Texas. The poll actually puts Trump behind in Texas. For me whether or not this poll is accurate doesn’t matter, but what this poll can potentially galvanise does.
To be perfectly clear nobody should look at this poll, see Clinton up by one and think that Texas will definitely be a blue state in November. An individual poll doesn’t give you that kind of information, but my point remains the same even if it’s a statistical anomaly and Trump is still a few percent ahead. If the Clinton campaign want to put a hammer in the nail of Trump’s coffin, pour money into Texas.
For me this is a purely intellectual exercise as I’m not going to vote in the US election, and if I was I almost certainly wouldn’t vote for either of these candidates. I have no love of the DNC because it’s packed full of centre-right corporatists who have no idea what it actually means to be left-wing. Having said that, the DNC and the Clinton campaign would be wise to listen to my advice. I’m going to take off my ideology hat, and put on my Bismarkian realpolitik one.
Even if the Washington Post/Survey Monkey poll is an outlier, the Clinton campaign should spend a lot of money on ads, infrastructure, and campaign materials to make Texas competitive. There are a number of reasons for this. The first is obvious: the electoral college. Texas has the second highest number of electoral college votes in the country, and Trump will be blown out of the water if he lost the Lone Star State.
The second is about tactics. What is the key to every successful magic trick or illusion? Misdirection. If the Clinton campaign maintains its activities in other states, whilst adding expenditure for a more dynamic Texas ground game, there will have to be a response. The RNC and the Trump campaign cannot afford to lose Texas, so these two entities would do everything they could to prevent this humiliation. Even if they were successful in keeping Texas red, the time spent in Texas by Trump and his surrogates is time not spent in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. Whilst Trump is busy trying to shore up support in Texas, the ground game in the Mid West is signing up Democratic voters and pumping commercials into people’s homes.
The final thing is psychological. If the Republican Party lost Texas in a presidential election it would tear the party apart. The base of the GOP wouldn’t be able to handle such a crushing defeat and this would force the party to reconsider its positions. Now you may be thinking that this happened in 2012 and they still ignored the lessons of that election. This is true, but the Republicans can’t afford to not be in the White House for another 4 to 8 years. The demographic shifts in the country are such that it is very plausible that this election is the last in which doubling-down on white male voters may be successful. With the party in tatters, the base and the leadership will be at a complete impasse and the response will be total disarray. In this interim period of chaos the Left of the Democratic Party will have time to organise and pull the party away from the teat of corporate America.
The accuracy of this poll doesn’t really matter, but the response to it does. The Democrats shouldn’t rely on Texas slowly becoming a a purple state, it should kneecap the GOP and cripple the Republican Party in the process. If the DNC and the Clinton campaign do not pour a metric fuck-tonne of money and resources into Texas, especially in bringing out the vote in minority communities and liberal areas like Austin, they deserve to lose the state. Do I think they will listen to anything I have said? Of course not, Hillary Clinton doesn’t do political risks; She focus groups what cereal she should eat every morning. Any courageous Democratic strategist would look at a one point lead in Texas and throw the kitchen sink at it, because if the Lone Star State goes blue, you open a Pandora’s box that will destroy the GOP.