Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Can Clinton win Texas? And can her surrogates squash the Greens in the process?

I've been saying 'no' even as she steadily closes the gap between her and Trump, and today I'd give the odds at something just under 50%.  Steve Brown, Democratic candidate for Texas Railroad Commission and also HD27 in prior cycles, has a blog-worthy report leading the cheers for his team (the following is from his latest email blast):

Recent polls indicate that the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is tightening in Texas.  A Survey USA poll last week has Sec. Clinton within the margin of error...behind by just 4%! . For perspective, Mitt Romney won Texas by 16%.

Clinton is performing strongest in Central Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.
In the country's 3rd most populous county, Harris, a September 22nd UH poll had Clinton 10 pts ahead of Trump...and that was before audio was released where Trump brags about sexual assault.  Nate Silver's website names Fort Bend County as a Clinton "surge county" poised to flip this cycle. Not only is Fort Bend the country's most diverse county with the state's largest population of Asian American voters, but it also represents an area where many key swing white educated women reside.

The polling suggests that Trump could be indirectly lifting the fortunes of down ballot Democrats. For instance, District Attorney and Sheriff candidates, Kim Ogg and Ed Gonzalez, as well as a legion of qualified Democratic judicial candidates in Harris/Fort Bend might benefit "bigly" from Trump.

Finally, the state's voter universe has changed significantly this cycle in part due to Trump's xenophobic rhetoricA record breaking 15 million Texans are registered to vote this cycle.  Further, this will be the first election since 2012 where the effects of Voter ID won't result in over 600,000 Texans being disenfranchised. 

All of this has Democrats really frothing to turn Texas blue, and it would be an awfully big deal if they can pull it off.  I'm still inclined to believe that Clinton comes up short, but Democrats down the ballot ought to be able to ride her wave throughout the state's urban and suburban counties.  That will certainly be something for the Donks to celebrate.

If I were still a Democrat, I'd be enthused.  But I no longer am, and it's not just because I think Hillary Clinton would be comfortable in a saner GOP, or even because most of her supporters are Helen Keller when it comes to her many flaws.  It's because of their animosity and condescension to those on her left, the Greens and Jill Stein.  This week there's been a full-court press waged against progressives from everybody from John Oliver to Glen Maxey.

Stein has responded to Oliver (so that I don't have to).

We were pleasantly surprised when John Oliver’s research team reached out to us regarding several statements that have been frequently taken out of context to ask if we felt they were missing any context, which we promptly provided. It was beyond disappointing to see that our responses were completely ignored. The same tired, misleading attack lines were trotted out, and Oliver chose to misrepresent our campaign on the lone substantive issue that he addressed: our plan to cancel student debt.

When Oliver’s fact-checkers asked if canceling student debt via quantitative easing was the campaign’s current position, we replied that we are considering a range of options in consultation with our economic advisors. Regardless, Oliver singled out canceling student debt via the Federal Reserve, implying both that this was our only option and that it would be technically impossible. In reality, experts say that it is technically possible, even if politically difficult, for the Fed to play a role in student debt forgiveness. And Oliver simply ignored the fact that we had other proposals to cancel student debt on the table. Coming from someone who made a stunt of buying and canceling medical debt on his show, and who claims to want alternatives to the failed two-party system, this disingenuous attack on the idea of cancelling student debt is both puzzling and hypocritical.

And so has David Collins, the Green who got over 80,000 votes and 16.6% in his run for Harris County Judge in 2014 (and does so in a much kinder and gentler way than I ever could).  But then Lisa Gray at the Chronic reposted UT's Per Erlaub and his little bomblet on the Greens even as Stein barnstormed through Texas this past weekend.

This stuff has the feel of a coordinated attack in the David Brock style, but only if you can dismiss the Clinton campaign's numerous exercises in dumbass douchebaggery, like having a conversation with Lloyd Blankfein in a room full of bankers about bombing Iran, or playing the race card against white progressives in the Sanders camp, both revealed in their own internal communications.  (I'm sorry I ever blogged anything praiseworthy about Tom Perez.)

"But the Russians ... !"

Accusations of being weirdos aside -- this is the Chris Hooks/Jackass argument -- the Greens have always punched above their class in terms of instilling fear in Democrats.  Now that the Mules don't (shouldn't) have anything to be scared of, the premise has shifted to "Blue Texas!" "A vote for Stein means Clinton might not carry the state!"

I weary of shooting down all these bullshit rationales.  This one will die writhing on the ground whether Hillary flips our beloved Texas or not, and whether Stein gets 1%, 2%, or the 5% goal the Green Party seeks nationwide for continuing ballot access and federal matching funds.  It is DOA on this basis alone: Clinton will either win the Lone Star or not -- and it doesn't seem to have the potential of Arizona flipping -- exclusively on the heat generated by Donald Trump's self-immolation, and not because of any teevee ad buys or blockwalking or phonebanking or anything else her campaign does or does not do.

The end (in sight).

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