Something’s Happening Here….

Posted in 2008 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Elections, Had Enough Yet?, Take Action, Williamson County at 1:40 pm by wcnews

It’s hard to know exactly how the Democratic early voting (EV) turnout in Williamson County and across Texas will effect the elections in November. But most of those “in the know” believe it is a tremendous boost for Democrats, and will be in November too. Check out this post form Kuff, Dem turnout from a GOP perspective. It’s a great overview of what many are saying at this point about the EV turnout. Especially this part that points to counties like Williamson specifically. Quoting from a QR item by Texas GOP strategist Royal Masset:

What worries Masset the most is that he figures upward of 80 percent of those new Democratic voters will return to cast ballots in the fall. “If they’re excited now, they’ll probably stay excited,” he said. In addition, the Democratic Party will have those voters in their database for outreach efforts later this year.

Masset looks at places like Collin County and Williamson County where Republicans hold every local office but Democrats are coming out this primary season in greater numbers than Republicans. The trends are adding up to an even better year for Democrats than in 2006, he said. And with a charismatic Obama at the top of the Democratic ticket and McCain seemingly unable to unite his party, Masset suggested any GOP incumbent who won last time with less than 60 percent of the vote should be concerned. Anyone who won with less than 55 percent of the vote is in trouble, he said.

Kuff goes on to show how Masset predicted the GOP rise in the ’90’s as well. Kuff also talks about how the the rise of the GOP and resurgence of the Democrats in Texas are not exactly alike:

These two situations aren’t exactly analogous. Masset was documenting a decline in Democratic primary turnout participation (all in Presidential years, I might add) while showing a corresponding increase in same on the GOP side. This year, while GOP turnout declined dramatically from 2000 to 2004, it is up somewhat from 2000. It’s just that Democratic participation is through the roof, possibly beyond 1972 levels in absolute terms, and that has to mean something.


Masset’s guess that 80% of the new Democratic voters will come back in the fall to vote Democratic is encouraging. Obviously, some of these people are “November Democrats” who were always going to vote Democratic in the fall, but for whatever the reason never bothered to vote in previous Marches. Some of these are Democratic “swing voters” as defined by Chris Bowers, which is to say people who’ll vote Dem if they vote, but need to be persuaded to do so; if they’re not inspired to get out and cast a ballot this November, they shouldn’t be considered voters in any meaningful sense. And the rest - a third? a half? more? less? who knows? - are people who aren’t in the habit, even the unreliable habit, of voting Democratic. I certainly think these people are going to change the basic calculus of a whole host of elections this year, and so does Masset.

These are all very good signs for Democrats in November. There are some demographic changes at play that’s for sure, in Williamson County and Texas. In Williamson there’s been a migration north Austin/Travis County that’s aided this change. But there can be no denying that if the GOP had governed well, and wisely, and had worked with the people instead of against them, something like this probably wouldn’t be possible. Because of the GOP’s inability to govern effectively it was only a matter of time before Texans started to realize that the GOP’s “trickle-down” strategy is really “trickle-on”.

Most people prefer health care to no health care. Freeways, paid for with the much cheaper gas tax, as opposed to extremely expensive, corporate welfare toll roads. Bridges that stay up, as opposed to those that fall down. An Emergency Management Agency that actually manages emergencies. They don’t like secret landfill deals that benefit corporations and the politicians they own. And on, and on, and on. Basically they want a government that works for the people again, as opposed to the one we currently have that works for the corporations and powerful.

Much of this is just the natural “swinging-back” of the pendulum my father taught me about long ago. When one party governs too long, without checks and balances, the corruption and mismanagement becomes all too obvious, and it’s time for a change. One thing that is undeniable about these numbers is that many people in Williamson County are willing to give the Democrats a look again, which is very good news.

The hard part is coming, turning this into election victories in November. It’s important for Democrats to realize that this is an opportunity that must be seized. Every effort must be made to make sure that these same voters, and many more, turnout and vote Democratic in the fall. Nothing should be taken for granted, nothing has been won yet, and every candidate should be running like they’re twenty points down. But there’s no doubt that there’s fertile soil for grassroots efforts to grow into a bountiful November harvest.

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