GOP Leaders Say Texas Could Be Less Red In 2020. But Are Their Worries Real?

“There’s lots of other states that are probably easier and cheaper targets than Texas.”

By Michael MarksFebruary 7, 2019 12:20 pm

The GOP in Texas will face greater challenges in 2020 than it has for many years. Sen. John Cornyn and party Chairman James Dickey have acknowledged the problem.

“Texas is no longer, I believe, a reliably red state,” Cornyn said in November. “We are on the precipice of turning purple.” Dickey told the Washington Examiner recently that the challenges his party faces in 2020 are very real.

It’s not the kind of rhetoric you might expect in a state that hasn’t elected a statewide Democrat since 1994. But are Republicans really running scared, or is this just the early stages of a plan to boost GOP turnout in 2020?

Mark McKinnon is a longtime Republican strategist from Texas who now hosts and produces “The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth” on Showtime. He says a lot of what party leaders are saying is rhetoric. And even the demographic shifts that many say will give Texas a bluer hue can’t be taken for granted.

“I think the Beto O’Rourke’s campaign gave everybody a good scare,” he says. “The demographic shift is certainly happening … but with the right messages, Hispanics are often Republican voters. They like the conservative family- values message.”

But McKinnon says Cornyn is right to sound an alarm for GOP voters.

“There’s two ways to run: scared and unopposed,” McKinnon says.

Outside Texas, McKinnon says the idea of putting Texas in the Democratic column seems exciting because the state has so many electoral votes. But that’s also the problem for Democrats.

“It’s so big, and so expensive,” he says. “So if you’re Democrats wanting to put [red] states in play, there’s lots of other states that are probably easier and cheaper targets than Texas.”

McKinnon says Democrats should spend their money and their energies on other, more likely targets, for at least a decade.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.