Texas GOP in panic over recent poll

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010, Good Stuff, Immigration, T. Don Hutto, Williamson County at 9:50 am by dembones

Dallas Morning News columnist Rod Dreher calls a soon-to-be-released poll from Hill Research Consultants (HRC), a Houston-based Republican polling firm, “a five-alarm wake-up call to the GOP”:

Among its findings:

Half the voters polled believe the state is on the wrong track; only 37 percent believe Texas is headed in the right direction.

On nearly every measure, the Republican brand is “significantly less appealing” than the Democratic one.

Voters believe the GOP is out of touch, lacks common sense and is more interested in looking out for special interests than the common good. When voters were asked which party “champions the needs of homeowners, small businesses and average taxpayers” – classic GOP constituencies – Democrats score an astonishing 13 points higher.

Republicans lead in negative characterizations (“arrogant,” “racist,” “corrupt,” “angry”) by double-digit margins. Dems, by contrast, lead by double digits on positive descriptions like “smart,” “fair,” “innovative” and “party of the future.” Perhaps most devastating to the GOP’s future, only 14 percent of those polled agreed it was “open and welcoming” – a whopping 33 points lower than the Democrats’ rating.

Dreher’s point of view in this piece is easily established. He states it clearly:

(The upcoming HRC report) is not going to go down well with the activist core of the Texas GOP, especially people like me: a social conservative with firm views on illegal immigration.

HRC publicly releases its poll and analysis on Monday. Early word is that the wingnuts will respond angrily, disputing the report’s methodology and conclusions; perhaps even the integrity of HRC director David Hill. SourceWatch reports that “well known political clients of the firm have included: Former Vice President Dan Quayle; Elizabeth Dole; Jeb Bush; Katherine Harris; Tom DeLay; Michigan’s Governor John Engler.” The internecine skirmish to come should be quite amusing.

Besides relishing the Republican circular firing squad, Democrats should take note of some of the conclusions in the report. Dreher’s analysis centers on his media market, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, pointing to the suburban counties that helped John McCain carry the state in the 2008 election. Collin, Denton and Tarrant counties produced some of the largest Republican vote margins of any region in the state. Dreher calls these voters “the Emerging GOP”.

The Emerging GOP leans Republican but doesn’t like the party today. Emergents are younger, more secular, socially moderate, Internet-savvy – and more suburban. Dallas County GOP Chairman Jonathan Neerman runs into these people all the time.

“They considers (sic) themselves Republican, but they don’t like some of the rhetoric that they hear on illegal immigration, on social issues, on the environment,” he says. “I think Dallas is going to be the epicenter of the state party’s change.”

On EyeOnWilliamson’s post-election analysis map (click to enlarge) those areas are quite visible; however, the phenomenon Dreher describes is not isolated to suburban Dallas, it is prevalent in all the state’s suburban counties.

Montgomery and Brazoria counties near Houston; and Comal, Guadalupe, Fredericksburg, Kerr, Bandera and Medina counties surrounding San Antonio are also increasingly populated by these “Emerging GOP” voters. Separating these voters from the Republican party should be the Democratic party’s goal. To do that, we continue to play on the hard right’s negative characterizations.

The HRC report also exposes an opportunity to drive a wedge between Emerging GOP and the wing-nut core by reinvigorating our opposition to their harsh anti-immigrant platform. We have in our very own county a perfect example of that unpopular policy and an opportunity to effect positive change by redoubling our efforts to close the T. Don Hutto Residential Facility (TDH) in Williamson county. The Williamson county commission will soon be voting on contract extensions that are necessary to keep the facilty open. Opponents of jailing children at TDH will hold a vigil on the courthouse steps in Georgetown, Sunday (Dec. 7) from 3:30 pm until dark.

One anomaly in the suburban county battleground picture is the Austin metropolitan area. Hays and Williamson counties, while still leaning Republican, are increasingly competitive for Democrats. With a permanent Democratic campaign office now open in Round Rock and candidate recruitment for 2010 under way, the environment is quite ripe for more Democrats to be elected to state and county offices in the next two years. Those candidates, if the HRC report is accurate, will still need to run on a platform of lowering property taxes and limiting government spending. Now is the moment when Democrats can peel off these emerging new voters who are ready to support Democratic candidates that favor fiscal responsibility.

Voters are realizing that the only compassionate conservatives are Democrats. Yes, there’s a few liberals like me in the Democratic party, but I don’t represent the future of the party. President-Elect Barack Obama is showing himself to be a good model of centrism I can appreciate. With that example leading this nation over the next two years, Democrats will be able to lay out a very persuasive case in state and county elections.


  1. Eye on Williamson » Texas Blog Round UP (December 8, 2008) said,

    December 8, 2008 at 8:40 am

    […] Dembones at Eye On Williamson analyzes the recent poll that’s causing a stir Texas GOP In Panic Over Recent Poll. […]

  2. Texas Progressive Alliance Weekly Round Up December 8, 2008 « TruthHugger said,

    December 8, 2008 at 10:11 am

    […] Dembones at Eye On Williamson analyzes the recent poll that’s causing a stir Texas GOP In Panic Over Recent Poll. […]

  3. Texas Progressive Alliance Weekly Round Up December 8, 2008 | BlueBloggin said,

    December 8, 2008 at 10:12 am

    […] Dembones at Eye On Williamson analyzes the recent poll that’s causing a stir Texas GOP In Panic Over Recent Poll. […]

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.