Friday, February 13, 2015

The permanent Republican majority in Texas

Ten years after Tom DeLay proclaimed his vision, it is fulfilled.  If you haven't read Dave Carney's big brag in Politico, better do so.

Turning the Democrat dream of a blue Texas into the nightmare of a massive loss happened because we ran a campaign that used every tool and strategy a modern campaign has at its disposal, and did so in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Too often campaigns try to fight the last winning war. For Texas Democrats that meant trying to remake their campaign in the shape of Barack Obama’s successful 2012 re-election. And we saw the results.


With that in mind there are certain principles on which successful campaigns like (Greg Abbott's) can build. We were guided by three basic principles that every Republican running for President needs to apply to their campaign: (1) talk to one audience; (2) measure outputs, not inputs; and (3) test and retest.

I'll let you geek out on the rest.  The point I wish to make is that for all of these analytics, Abbott's colostomy bag could have burst onstage during one of the debates with Wendy Davis and he still would have won.  Carney may think he's that good, and his advisory fees are probably the highest in the nation right now despite being the one whose head went on the chopping block after Rick Perry's 2012 clusterfuck.  But it's also accurate to say that Abbott, wouldn't have won so convincingly without Carney's software, algorithm, and database schemes.  Abbott -- and the rest of the downballot TXGOP ticket, as well as across the nation -- would not have crushed the Democrats in such humiliating fashion were it not for the successful execution of metrics like these.

Of course, the most severe efforts to suppress minority and working class voters helped tremendously.  Defense wins championships, as they say, and there is nothing approaching the work of King Street Patriots/True the Vote on the left.  The historical slump in Democratic turnout in midterm election years is also part of what Carney claims credit for.  But remember as you read Carney's goals in the link -- 'identify 250 Abbott supporters every week' -- while Wendy Davis' team was bragging about the number of phone calls they made, numbers of door knocked.  Not how many people they actually talked to or persuaded.  Because, sadly, they weren't and didn't.

Here is a personal anecdote I wish to share in regard to database analytics.

In 2004 I made a bet with a Republican I knew online only, never met (and since deceased) that John Kerry would defeat George W. Bush for re-election.  Our bet was $50, payable to the winning party's national committee by the loser.  Shortly after the election I paid off.

In making that payment to the RNC, I used my own credit card but listed the contribution in the name of "Saul Relative", and the credit card I used was at least ten cards ago, having also changed banks twice and addresses three times in the decade since.  For years after that, I got e-mail and postal letters addressed "Dear Saul:", etc.  My favorite was one that began "Frankly, we're puzzled..."  I wrote on their letter with a black marker: "Stop calling me Frankly.  My name is Saul".  And returned it to them postage paid.

Over time the letters and e-mails diminished to a trickle and then down to nothing; consequently I had not thought about this circumstance for quite some time.

On November 20, 2014, I got Dave Wilson's appeal on his anti- HERO mailer (I posted on FB about it, with pictures).  Though it was addressed to "The Dorrell Household", and my wife did serve briefly as a GOP precinct chair during the 2000 election, her voting history since that time is the same as mine (DDD for over a decade).  So I thought it both odd and amusingly wasteful that Wilson was casting such a wide net looking for supporters.

About a month after that (Dec 29th), I received a nice letter from Reince Priebus, addressed to me and enclosed with my 2015 RNC membership card and a gracious appeal for continued financial support.  Within the body of the letter there was this phrase:

"That's why I'm concerned that we have not heard from you since 11/16/04. I know how generously you have helped our Party in the past.  We need you on our team if we are going to win in 2015, 2016, and beyond."

Read Dave Carney's article again, and think about Tom DeLay's mission a decade ago regarding a permanent Republican majority.  Scott Braddock has neatly brought it up to the present day for us.  Then take a look again at Jeremy Bird, Battleground Texas, the hits their reputation has taken in the wake of November 2014, and the extensive, assorted, mostly backchannel conversations within the various metropolitan county party's players as they coordinated with BGTX (a term I use loosely here) to turn the tide -- or stem the tide, as was the case in Travis and Dallas County.  You know who you are and what's been said.

If you really want to understand why I have given up hope for Democrats in Texas in my lifetime, I think you have all the datapoints you need.  If you are the kind of person who remains committed to turning Texas blue during your lifetime, you have all of the blessings and strength of conviction that I could wish to give another person.

I feel compelled to spend my fruitful hours, days, months, years, whatever is left in another endeavor.  Long after Dave Carney dies and goes to Hell, the future of Texas is all but chiseled into the pink granite walls of the state Capitol.  I think this understanding is why you see LVDP quitting the Senate and running for mayor, along with state legislators like Mike Villarreal and Sly Turner doing the same.  They see the future as clearly as anyone, and it reveals a few Democrats in cities and a couple of blue counties and a handful of statehouse and Senate districts that are gerrymandered minority blue in perpetuity.  And that's pretty much it.

Unless a meteor or a frackquake or a measles contagion takes out millions of Republicans in rural, exurban, and suburban Texas, the TDP will simply not have much influence at all regarding state affairs for at least another generation.  That means good young Democrats like this fellow and others in their 20's and 30's are going to wake up one fine morning on their 50th, or 55th or 60th birthday, with children their own ages now, never having witnessed a Democrat elected to a statewide office.

And no quantity of ten-grand-a-month consultants, advisers, pollsters, and strategists with terabytes of demographic data and direct and e-mail lists and six-inch thick Rolodexes is going to make one iota of difference.  Those people have never been in the game to win it anyway; their victory was getting hired and paid.  They either take both sides or avoid taking a public one at all politically: they're just mercenaries.  (Note the names and bios listed under Billl King and Stephen Costello for the most recent example of how these prostitutes trade jerseys.)  This is one more reason why fewer and fewer people have enough confidence in a system that is so broken, so dysfunctional that most of them can't be bothered to participate in it.

Maybe something will reset the chessboard and the Dems can rebound, but I can't see over the horizon.  I'd rather bet on a old-fashioned torches and pitchforks revolution, especially since the conservatives already have such a large head start on guns and ammo, but that's just me.  Noah's only a little less pessimistic than I am.

I'd like to be wrong about all this.  Hell, I'd just like to be wrong about some of it.  Short of self-immolation, the Republicans are large and in charge for as far as the eye can see and the mind can comprehend.  Like it, lump it, it is what it is.  And will continue to be.


Gadfly said...

I had to send Carney a couple of Tweets about various items in his feed, including that piece.

Otherwise, well put about the Battleground consultants. Their "wins" are measured by their wallets, indeed.

Gadfly said...

Oh, and for the good he still does in the state senate, Braddock reminds me of why John Whitmire (and others, like Helen Giddings, my state rep at the time), can rot in hell along with Carney.