Young people who aren't registered or vote consistently are at the center of an ambitious new impetus to turn Texas intoblue, a long elusive goal for Democrats.
HOUSTON - Cristina Tzintzun-Ramirez is convinced that 'she knows the secret to making Texas blue.
When she applied to lead NextGen America, a liberal group backed by billionaire and former presidential candidate Tom Steyer, she made two things clear. She was not leaving Austin, and the organization would have to spend time and money in Texas.
And she was focusing on a magic number: 631,000 votes. That was the Republicans 'margin of victory in the state in 2020.
Now NextGen is targeting nearly 2 million voters in Texas: 1.1 million voters aged 18 and 30 who are registered to vote but did not vote consistentlye during the last elections; 277,000 other young voters who did not vote in 2020; and 565,000 people they identified as "young progressives" who are not registered. If only a third of the total votes, or around 633,000 people, Democrats would be enough to exceed the Republican margin.
"We have a large number of young people who are not yet registered to vote, so we have to make them believe in their own power, ”help Ms. Tzintzun-Ramirez, who is now the president of NextGen and who has worked in Texas politics for over 15 years. "People thought demographics were fate, but we actually need to come out and convince these people to vote.
The organization is planning to spend nearly $ 16 million in Texas over the next two years to register new voters and get them to the polls in the2022 midterm elections. The draft marks some of the biggest Democratic spending in Texas targeting young people that the party hopes will help it break the Republican grip on the state.
But Democrats have a steep slope to climb. The goal of toppling Texas, the nation's largest Republican-controlled state, has long eluded Democrats, after years of their party spending little or nothing, partisan gerrymandering making it harder for them to win elections. and a state house that effectively runs the Republican right flank.
And Republicans are enthusiastically circulating money in the state: the Gov. Greg Abbott has raised nearly $ 19 million in the last 10 days of June alone, more money than NextGen plans to spend in the state over the next two years. Several of these checks to the governmentrneur amounted to $ 1 million, which is common for Republicans in Texas, where there is no donation limit in world wide races 'State .
"Money isn ' t everything, but it 's much better than nothing," said Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and former presidential candidate. "This is crucial to increase the numbers, when you have so many people who are infrequent voters - the voter register Hard drives cost money. Image Cristina Tzintzun- Ramirez believes that young people are motivated more by problems than by individual candidates. Credit ... Annie Mulligan for Hfrance.fr
Ms Tzintzun-Ramirez believes that young people are more motivated by problems than by individual applicants, and that the group's work will complement all campaign spending. Most campaigns, Tzintzun-Ramirez said, focus on reliable voters or shifting voters, and "youth mobilization does not fit into that equation and n 'is just not profitable for most campaigns ".
Last year, about 50 percent of people under the age of 30 were voted in the presidential election, an 11-point increase from 2016, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. Texas is secondThe largest state in the country and its population is also one of the youngest and most persified according to census data. People of color accounted for 95 percent of the state's growth over the past decade, and White Texans now make up less than 40 percent of the state's population.
Flooding the state with money may not be enough at a time when the Texas Democratic Party faces significant hurdles - voter enthusiasm flexing, shifting political attitudes, tighter voting restrictions, and the redistribution that favors Republicans. And while demographics have long been seen as a boon to Democrats as the state persists, a significant number of Hispanic voters near the turned to Republicans in the last election.
For the republicsins who think overthrowing the state is nothing but Democratic hype, these seven-figure donations to their own party reflect enthusiasm for the GOP
"Money certainly does make a difference, but Democrats have repeatedly claimed that Texas is about to turn blue to see their hopes dashed ", said Sen. Ted Cruz, who criticized Beto O 'Rourke during his Senate race in 2018 for attracting so many Liberal donations in other parts of the country.
The difficulty for Democrats was fully visible during a rally launching NextGen 's voter inion efforts at the University of Houston, where one Democratic leader after another took over the scene to convince the small crowd of the power of young voters.
But in the end, when Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green, two memblack bres of Congress, took the stage, the limits of this power became clear.
The Republicans who drew up the project of a new map of the Congress merged their two districts into one - raising the possibility that two of the longest-serving members of the state's Congressional Democratic delegation may be forced to run against each other. Ms. Jackson Lee and Mr. Gr Some objected to the redesigned map, saying it seemed discriminatory.
"We're going to have to fight," a Mr Green said in an interview. “It will require protests. It will take energy. It will take resources. And we will have them. " Image Billionaire Tom Steyer and former presidential candidateshe founded NextGen in 2013. Credit ... Annie Mulligan for Hfrance.fr
Texas - with over 650,000 millionaires, more than any other state with the exception of California - has long been a sort of ATM machine for candidates from both parties in other parts of the country, often to the detriment of local candidates.
Just eight years ago, when Paul Sadler ran for the Senate seat against then-newcomer Mr. Cruz, the National Democrats did next to nothing to support his campaign, he said. -he declares. Mr. Cruz has raised over $ 14 million. Mr. Sadler never even hit $ 1 million.
"They played relatively no role," Mr. Sadler said, a former state legislator, onnational democratic groups. . “They took the card and wrote off Texas completely. I was extraordinarily disappointed. They wouldn't even try. "
Instead, he said, National Democratic leaders have treated Texas like a piggy bank , raising money from donors who lived there for campaigns in other states. "No one believed Texas could be won, but it's a different place now," he said. he said.
Indeed, Republicans' margins have shrunk or remained the same in presidential elections in Texas over the past decade. In 2012, Republican Senator Mitt Romney won Texas with 57% of the vote. In 2016 Donald J. Trump won 52%. Last year Mr. Trump again won 52%.
Democratic spending has also increased in recent cycles: awhen about $ 75 million went to Democratic candidates. in the state in 2016, about $ 213 million went to Democratic candidates in 2020. That 2020 number was further eclipsed by the $ 388 million spent on Republican candidates, according to Open Secrets , which tracks political spending across the country.
Fr Because of the size of Texas, Democrats and Republicans spend more money there than in almost any other state in the country. But the percentage devoted to Democratic candidates is one of the lowest in the country. About 35% of all political spending in Texas goes to Democrats, according to Open Secrets. In Wisconsin, a key state in every election, 49% goes to Democrats.
There have been some high-profile attempts to invest in the industry before. 'Status: Michael R. Bloomberg's campaign spent more thaners millions of dollars for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential primary. In 2014, Battleground Texas, an effort led by former Obama aides, spent millions - just to make every Democrat lose in the election. Statewide.
Rafael Anchia, a state Democrat Dallas lawmaker, chairman of the US-Mexico legislative caucus, said the campaign Mr. O 'Rourke was the only statewide Democratic effort in recent memory with a budget large enough to reach the entire state. Mr Anchia said that, like other Texas Democrats, he made an argument to national funders that the state could be competitive.
" Texas is no longer seen as a jerk. Golden "he said. " It has similar demographics to California, but has been a low turnout state and vote. " Image Claudia Yoli Ferla, executive director of MOVE Texas, gathers the crowd at a NextGen event in Houston. Credit ... Annie Mulligan for Hfrance.fr
One of the hardest hurdles to overcome can be apathy. At a NextGen g organization meeting in McAllen, along the Mexican , several students said their biggest challenge would be convincing their peers to vote.
"People see politics as this uncomfortable conversation, or something that really doesn't impact them at all, ”said Rebecca Rivera, 21, a student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. "They either lost their faith in government, or never really had it to begin with.