How Wendy Davis can win

How Wendy Davis can win

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You’ve heard about the explosion in Texas’ Hispanic population that looks set to make the deep-red state competitive for Democrats before too long. But most experts say those trends won’t become game-changers for another decade or so—too late to help Wendy Davis’ bid for governor next year. That doesn’t mean that there’s no path to victory for Davis, though.

Rather than riding a demographic wave into the Governor’s Mansion, Davis has a chance to instead put together a cross-racial coalition that brings together minorities and liberal or moderate whites—especially women—Democrats and Texas political experts say. The task might have been made a little easier Monday when a federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush blocked a key part of the abortion law that Davis gained a national profile by filibustering—making it trickier for Republicans to paint her as an extremist on the issue.

Still, given the partisan realities of the Lone Star State, where no Democrat has been elected governor since 1990, it’s a long shot that would require almost everything to break her way. But with a proven statewide candidate, Attorney General Greg Abbott, as her probable Republican opponent, it’s likely the best chance Davis has got.

The strategy is comparable to the one used in Obama’s 2012 victory nationwide, when the president won an overwhelming minority of non-white voters, while holding onto enough liberal and moderate whites to eke out a majority. It’s also an approach Davis has used before: Whites made up around half of her state Senate district. In her 2008 and 2012 victories, both of which surprised many observers, Davis won large majorities of black and Hispanic voters, while staying competitive with whites by running as a centrist Democrat focused on education and economic development.

“There’s a little bit of a template,” Matt Angle, a veteran Texas Democratic political consultant who helped recruit Davis for the state Senate in 2008 told MSNBC. “And then Wendy Davis really energizes that by just being an extraordinary candidate who defies any type of ideological labels.”

Texas Democrats see any increase in minority turnout driven by demogrpahic changes as a bonus. Instead, they’re relying on a two-pronged strategy: Boosting Democratic margins with existing Hispanic voters; and cutting the party’s deficit with whites.

Here’s how they see the math: First, they assume an electorate that’s roughly 65% white. (In 2010 it was 67% white, and most projections put it at around 65% this time around). If Davis can win close to 70% of the Hispanic vote, and 35% of the white vote, she’d have a chance to get to a majority, given reliable black support for Democrats.

Increasing the margin with Hispanics

Winning seven in ten Hispanic votes will be a heavy lift for Davis, but it’s not impossible…Continued here:

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