Wednesday, November 12, 2008

II - Texas Turn Democrat? Maybe


"The Democrats have built what looks like a coalition they can ride for 20 or 30 years," said Simon Rosenberg, head of the pro-Democratic group NDN, which has spent millions of dollars targeting Latino voters.

Obama's winning coalition, some Democrats said, could mark a turning point in history: Republicans can no longer achieve an electoral college majority with their decades-old strategy of winning whites in the South and conservatives in the heartland. Now, Democrats have a path through the Rocky Mountains and even some states in the old Confederacy.

Ruy Teixeira, a fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress who in 2002 co-wrote "The Emerging Democratic Majority," said that Obama "was able to realize the political potential in the ways the country is changing." That, Teixeira added, bodes well for the party's future because "you have all these ascendant groups leaning increasingly Democratic."

Texas, the nation's second-most-populous state and home to 34 electoral votes, was not a 2008 presidential battleground, and Republican nominee John McCain won there by a comfortable margin. The Obama campaign spent little money there, apart from recruiting volunteers to work in other states.

More untapped potential voters

But strategists believe the large and growing Latino population there remains untapped, along with a large black electorate, which could make Texas competitive with a major investment of time and money from an Obama-led Democratic Party.

Similar possibilities exist in Arizona, another heavily Latino state that leans Republican, and Georgia, with a growing Latino population and a black electorate that grew from one-quarter of the overall voters four years ago to nearly one-third on Tuesday.

In turning Florida and Ohio, among other states, this year, Obama organizers focused for months not only on registering new voters but also on tracking down blacks, Latinos and young people who had been registered but never voted.

One top Obama strategist said the campaign had already sought to build the Texas state party, handing over a database with hundreds of thousands of voter names and phone numbers gathered when Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton competed in the state's Democratic primary. Much of the campaign's attention in that effort focused on Latinos in the Rio Grande Valley.

The strategist, Cuauhtemoc "Temo" Figueroa, Obama's top Latino outreach official, said the state could be taken seriously as a presidential battleground.

The big question is whether Tuesday's results can fairly be interpreted as a sea change in American politics when so many unusual circumstances were at play...continued

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