AUSTIN, Texas – The fight for the future of the Texas election is far from over. House Democrats have temporarily halted increased voter restrictions, but Gov. Greg Abbott promises to take the issue to a special session later this year.
In a Republican-dominated legislature, Democrats are unlikely to completely stifle such a sweeping election measure. On Tuesday, Democrats announced a plan in hopes of hiring more eligible voters. While efforts to get many Texans on the voter rolls aren’t new, what’s different is how much the Democratic Party plans to spend and how it will follow the different approaches.
“Voter registration is absolutely critical to closing the gap and improving the odds of Democrats being elected to any seat,” Luke Warford, chief strategy officer for the Texas Democratic Party, told Capital Tonight. “When we look at who these people are, who the unregistered Texans are, we know they’re young, we know they’re diverse, we know they’re people of color, or people who just moved in. here other states that tend to be more democratic. “
In 2020, former President Donald Trump won Texas by more than 631,000 votes. Two years earlier, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke had won Senator Ted Cruz less than 225,000 votes.
In their analysis of the general election in November last year, Texas Democrats acknowledged that they were outclassed by the GOP in turnout. Now Democrats aim to register 2 million eligible voters by the 2022 midterm elections.
On Tuesday, the party unveiled its plan dubbed “Project Texas”. Warford said he would start with an investment of almost $ 2 million, but could end up reaching $ 14 million.
Democrats will geographically try out different tactics, including digital ads, apartment registration, mail registration, traditional on-site registration, relational voter registration, and an online application tool linked to RegisterTexas.com which would work in conjunction with door-to-door canvassing.
“The idea of trying to test different things and match the right voter registration tactics to specific voters. I think that’s probably the most innovative and forward thinking thing about this program, fundamentally, ”Warford said.
The Democrats’ announcement comes just after a weekend of Republican victories in local elections and a legislative session dominated by Conservative priorities. Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser said he could see this session play a major role in the Republican primaries as well as Democrats highlighting these issues. But he believes these statewide issues could disappear into the rearview mirror, as national politics are in the spotlight.
“Democratic hopes have been dashed a few times recently, and I know they kind of play the long game here. But until they start winning statewide elections, or start winning more seats in Congress or the State House and State Senate, they will be hard pressed. to convince, you know, their constituents. [they’re] capable of turning Texas blue, ”said Steinhauser.
The 2022 Republican primary is already heating up with an official challenger for the governor’s seat. After a year of wrangling work with heads of state, President Allen West of the Texas Republican Party stepped down in July, sparking speculation about his candidacy for a higher post.
Meanwhile, the current Land Commissioner, George P. Bush, has launched his candidacy for the post of attorney general of Texas. Bush broke with his family by supporting Trump.
“The Republican Party is trying to decide what its future looks like, you know, what role does the former president play in that? What issues do we need to talk about? What types of candidates should we run for election? Said Steinhauser.
The Democrats’ voter registration plan begins with a pilot program that will run until the end of the year. By 2022, they said they would scale up the tactics that work. The minority party has taken a lot of heat for not doing enough in-person voter engagement during the 2020 cycle.
Warford said recruiting candidates will be key, along with messaging and branding.
“We know the thing that gets people to decide whether or not to vote is quite complex, right? It’s a combination of who the candidates are, what they say, when , ” he said. “We are doing our best to think about it holistically and strategically so that our candidates are elected in 2022 and beyond.”