Saturday, May 18, 2024

For O’Rourke Texas senate race relying on Latino Vote

The Texas Senate race wasn’t supposed to be competitive this year, but thanks to an imaginative campaign, Beto O’Rourke has energized Democrats, drawing huge crowds and raised tens of millions of dollars to defeat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

While polls show a single-digit race, O’Rourke will need a transformed electorate in order to win in Texas, where no Democrat has prevailed in a statewide race in almost a quarter-century. Specifically, O’Rourke needs to get dramatically more Latinos to show up to the polls in a state where Latinos have far less political clout than their demographic weight would suggest.

But as the two candidates prepare to meet for their first debate Friday night, voter registration data suggests O’Rourke’s campaign and Texas Democrats may not be pulling in enough new voters to offset Republicans’ structural advantages in the state.

Texas has a history of very low voter participation and racial minorities, who are more likely to vote for Democrats, are among the least likely to vote. Manny Garcia with the Texas Democratic Party said Texas Democrats are working harder these days to speak to the needs of Latinos – and immigrants, in particular. He said he thinks issues like family separation have provided an opening for Democrats.

However, issues alone aren’t changing the state’s electoral math, despite a rapidly growing and diverse population. In Texas’ urban counties and the heavily-Latino counties in the Rio Grande Valley, there’s no surge of new Latino voters, according to voter registration data.