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Can Wendy Davis win the Texas governor’s race?

From: CBS News



Democrats are rightly excited about state Sen. Wendy Davis’ entry into the Texas governor race, though everyone knows – or should know – Davis has an uphill battle in front of her. Yes, Texas is changing and Democrats are working to seize on it; some of the Obama campaign’s brain trust set up shop to organize and register voters there with the same kind of targeting that worked so well nationally last year.

Still, if you’re betting on Texas turning blue it’s a better futures play than a short-term one. That doesn’t mean this can’t be a compelling campaign with long-term implications, at the very least. Here’s why:
You’ll hear a lot about the growing Hispanic vote and how it may become the catalyst for a “blue” Texas. But what makes Texas harder today for Democrats than some other high-growth, demographically changing states in the west and south is that Democrats in Texas get a very, very low share of the white vote – so low, that minority voters and Hispanic voters cannot yet make up the difference.
For instance: in the last midterm cycle of 2010, Texas’ white voters gave the Democratic gubernatorial candidate just 29 percent of their votes. At the same time, Colorado’s Democratic candidate got 47 percent of whites – and then the Hispanic vote put him over the top. In Florida, even in losing, the Democratic candidate got 41 percent of whites. For Democrats and the white vote in states like this, it’s not about winning, it’s about not losing by too much. (On the presidential level, Barack Obama had gotten 26 percent of Texas’ white vote in 2008. That same year, he got 39 percent of it in Virginia, which he won, just to offer an example.)
If we look deeper into that Texas white vote, we see a lot of conservatives – and it isn’t clear Davis is poised to run on an appeal to conservatives, given her history. Most Texas voters (51 percent) were conservative in the last midterm – yes, that’s most voters, not just most Republicans. Even 20 percent of Texas Democrats in 2010 called themselves conservative, a relatively high percent compared to Democrats in blue states. Davis may look to appeal to women voters on women’s issues, and that may well be effective. But in Texas, a lot of women independents are conservative, too: 40 percent, more than three times the number who called themselves liberal.