Why Texas Republicans would be better off with Hillary Clinton as president

Hillary Clinton, accompanied by Director of Communications Jennifer Palmieri, left, and senior aid Huma Abedin, right, arrives at Westchester County Airport, in White Plains, N.Y., Thursday, AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Hillary Clinton, accompanied by Director of Communications Jennifer Palmieri, left, and senior aide Huma Abedin, right, arrives at Westchester County Airport, in White Plains, N.Y., Thursday, AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

 

Good morning Austin:

I was a bit startled when the massive Washington Post 50-state poll  on the presidential race released Tuesday identified Texas as a purple swing state.

 

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My story for the Statesman – Are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump really tied in Texas? – offered some skepticism about the results and some reasons why the poll should be taken, as University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus put it, “with an absolute lick of salt.”

I sent an email that morning to the Texas Republican Party:

Didn’t know if the chairman wanted to offer a rejoinder to the Washington Post 50-state poll showing Texas a dead heat between Clinton or Trump? Or perhaps you’ve already prepared an urgent fundraising email.

The rejoinder wasn’t forthcoming, but at shortly before 9 that night came the first urgent fundraising email, this one from Texans for Greg Abbott, who never miss an opportunity to sound the alarm.

Austin American Statesman: Washington Post poll has Clinton and Trump locked in dead heat in Texas

Jonathan, this isn’t a joke


Many Texas conservatives have let their guard down, and Hillary’s campaign juggernaut is taking full advantage of it.


After years of success at the ballot box, Republicans have assumed that our state would remain a beacon for liberty and freedom–and never turn blue. 
It’s time to step it up NOW.  We cannot afford to lose Texas in November. 

The Washington Post’s latest poll has Hillary Clinton with a 1-point lead over Donald Trump 
in TexasDon’t sit on the sidelines.  We have to do everything we can to keep Texas red!
It only takes one bad election to undo everything we’ve achieved together.  We must have your help right away!

Will you help us in this fight?  The stakes cannot be higher.  A victory for Hillary in Texas would guarantee her the White House.  But that’s not the only thing at stake.  They’re also trying to win important down-ballot races.  If they win these races, Governor Abbott’s conservative agenda for next session could be dead on arrival.

Our field team has been working across the state, and we’re relying on the support of generous Texans to keep it running–registering voters, training volunteers, and getting Republicans to the polls. 
Can Governor Abbott count on your support?

Hillary and the Democrats have multiple offices in Texas, and have been working tirelessly to win the Lone Star State.  Tim Kaine is scheduled to campaign across Texas again as Election Day draws closer.  
The time to act is NOW.  Please make the most generous contribution you can to help our statewide field team ensure Texas remains red.

The road to the White House could be determined in Texas.


John Jackson

Campaign Director

Texans for Greg Abbott

Next up, Wednesday morning, came the equally urgent email appeal of Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Mechler.

According to the latest polls, the race for the White House is a dead heat. Those polls also have the Obama-Clinton Democrats and their friends in the liberal media thinking Crooked Hillary might be able to pick off Republican strongholds – like Texas.

You read that right.

Hillary Clinton and the Democrats think they smell an opportunity to pull off a shocking upset in the Lone Star State and they’ll pour the Clinton Cash political machine funds into Texas to do just that.


If Donald Trump is going to lead unprecedented Republican victories en route to the White House, he must win here, in Texas –
America’s great stronghold of liberty-loving commonsense conservatives.

And only the Republican Party of Texas has the ability to do what it will take to emerge victorious up-and-down the ticket on Election Day with the staff, volunteers, polling, voter outreach, advertising, and Get-Out-the Vote programs that make all the difference.


That’s why I’m asking you to make an emergency contribution to the Republican Party of Texas now:

Chip in $25 immediately >>>

Chip in $50 immediately >>>

Chip in $75 immediately >>>

Chip in $100 immediately >>>

Or click here to donate another amount >>>

Jonathan,, we must prove the leftist media and Hillary campaign wrong!
Please step forward right now and make an urgent contribution of $25, $50, $75, or even $100 or more to support the Texas GOP today!

And then, late that afternoon, a somewhat less panicked email from Mike Joyce, the state party’s communications director.

Jonathan – have you seen the latest headlines?

The media continues to push the narrative that Texas is not only in play, but Democrats could see historic victories across the Lone Star State this November.


Here is what I told a magazine this morning:


“Hillary will not win Texas, I can promise you that. [This poll showing a slight Clinton lead] is a perfect example of Democrats latching onto anything for relevance. They are always trying to find that one spark that’s going to jumpstart the Party, but the Republican Party continues to be dominant.”


Jonathan, I need your help to make sure I keep my promise. We are confident but can’t take anything for granted.
That’s why your support more important now than ever in the final 60 days of the election cycle. Follow this link today to keep Texas Red this November!

Hillary will not win Texas, I can promise you that – especially if the Republican Party of Texas has your support!

Thanks,
Mike Joyce

Communications Director, RPT

Theses emails all reminded of something that Steve Munisteri – Mechler’s predecessor as chairman – had told me on more than one occasion, that Battleground Texas, which was founded in 2013 with the long-term objective of turning Texas first purple then blue, was the best thing that happened to him as chairman, rousing Texas Republicans from their complacency and providing no end to the kind of stories that the state GOP could effectively fund raise off of.

Best of all, from the Texas Republican perspective, the negative synergy between Battleground Texas and the Wendy Davis campaign for governor helped the state GOP go from a very comfortable, nearly 13-point margin of victory in the 2010 governor’s race, to a whopping 20-point win in 2014.

2010

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2014

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However, Battleground Texas and Wendy Davis did not do it alone. The real hero of Greg Abbott’s big victory in 2014 was President Barack Obama, whose presidency gave Texas Republicans absolutely everything they could want to run against.

In fact, the central mantra of Abbott’s campaign was that, as attorney general, “I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home.”

Now, just suppose John McCain had been elected president in 2008, or Mitt Romney had been elected in 2012?

What would Abbott have run on?

“I go into the office, work hand-in-glove with the federal government, and I go home.”

That’s no good. No good at all.

Truth is, Texas Republicans are going to sorely miss Barack Obama.

But they need not grieve for long, because Hillary Clinton is pretty near just as excellent as a substitute, which is why, in their most secret heart-of-hearts, Texas Republicans are, or ought to be, rooting, for Clinton to win in November.

Indeed, the elliptical message of those urgent fundraising appeals is, or should be, while for the record we really, really, really want Donald Trump to score a huge victory on his way to seizing the White House, we all know, Jonathan, that the best thing that could happen for our party, would be for Hillary to occupy the White House come January.

Of course there are some Texas Republicans – Ted Cruz you know who you are – who aren’t rooting, even superficially, for Trump to win. But the same logic applies to him. He is much better off running for president in 2020 against another President Clinton seeking to extend Democratic control of the White House to 16 years, than an incumbent of his own party.

I checked this logic with Bill Miller, a lobbyist and co-founder of HillCo Partners, who knows as much about this sort of thing as anyone.

Yes, Miller said, for Texas Republicans, Hillary Clinton would prove a worthy successor to Barack Obama as someone for them to fund raise off of and run against, and, unlike a Trump presidency, a Clinton presidency would provide a clear path for Abbott (not to mention Cruz) to run for president in 2018.

Is Abbott interested in running for president?

Yeah, sure, why not. He is the governor of Texas.

From Bill Whelan – a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution in California – writing at Forbes this week.

We’re going to hit the fast-forward button in this column – way past the upcoming election and whatever 2017 has to offer in the way of a new White House and Congress.

Our arrival point: the day after the 2018 midterm election and the question of which Republican will be in the best position to challenge Hillary Clinton’s re-election (which I’m assuming – for the sake of this argument, not because I think she has this clinched).

That Republican?

I’m going with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

And, the reverse logic applies to Texas Democrats, who, from a purely political standpoint, would be better off being able to fulminate against President Trump than have to defend President Clinton.

Miller points out that if, as Democrats argue, once they flip Texas they will remake the national political map in a way that will make it virtually impossible for Republicans to ever again build a national Electoral College majority, a Trump presidency, while difficult for them to stomach, would almost certainly provide Texas Democrats the key to the electoral lock they are looking for.

From Rice University political scientist Mark Jones:

Certainly having Obama in the White House has made things easier for Texas Republicans than would be the case if there were a Republican in the White House. Looking back at 2008, Bush did drag down Texas Republicans. The Republican losses that year were a combination of Bush’s unpopularity and simple fatigue with the Bush administration, but also Republicans got greedy in the redistricting and therefore over-extended themselves a little bit, which came back to haunt them in the 2008 election when there was a higher than normal turnout among Democratic-leaning voters.
Just look at these numbers. Texas Republicans initially did well with the election of Gov. George W. Bush and the first mid-term election to follow. But, by the time he left office, Democrats had nearly drawn even with Republicans in the Texas House. As soon as Obama was in the White House, Texas Democrats’ fortunes plunged.

 

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For Texas Democrats, Clinton would be more of the same.

Mark Jones:

From a Democratic perspective, Hillary Clinton is probably good for individual Texas Democrats if she’s in the White House, in that she can do things and promote policies that they agree with. She’s bad for Texas Democrats in terms of electoral politics because she will make it all the harder for Texas Democrats to win in 2018 and more likely than not, many of the gains they obtain this cycle, they’ll lose back to Republicans in 2018 when Republicans can campaign against Clinton in the White House and they’ll have Greg Abbott headlining their ticket as opposed to Donald Trump.

For Abbott or Cruz or any other Republican interested in being president, Jones said:

Trump is a no-win situation in the White House because either he is successful, in which case he will run for re-election in four years, or, more likely, he implodes or is such a disaster that the Republican brand is so damaged that it will be a cake walk for the Democratic nominee.

Two years ago, in December 2014, University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, writing in Politico Magazine, laid out Why Parties Should Hope They Lose the White House

Think of the billions the parties must raise to elect a president in 2016. Consider the millions of paid and volunteer man-hours that will be devoted to this enterprise. The White House is the center of the partisan political universe, and Democrats and Republicans alike measure success or failure by their ability to win and hold the presidency.

Instead, maybe they ought to hope they lose. The surest price the winning party will pay is defeat of hundreds of their most promising candidates and officeholders for Senate, House, governorships, and state legislative posts. Every eight-year presidency has emptied the benches for the triumphant party, and recently it has gotten even worse. (By the way, the two recent one-term presidents, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, also cost their parties many lower-level offices, but in both cases this didn’t happen until they were defeated for reelection.)

Since World War II there have been eight two-term presidencies: Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, plus the reasonable succession combos of Franklin Roosevelt-Harry Truman, John Kennedy-Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon-Gerald Ford. Not a one has left his party in better shape that he found it, at least in terms of lower elected offices.

Naturally, there are differences. As in all other categories, some presidents were more damaging than others. And while his record is not yet complete, since the 2016 cycle still awaits, Barack Obama is well on his way to becoming the most harmful to his sub-presidential party of all modern chief executives.

From Truman to Obama, it’s a sorry record. Take a glance down this chart, compiled by my colleague Geoffrey Skelley, which catalogues the injury done to each president’s party during his (or their) eight years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

 

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Q – How in heaven’s name did a doughy pedagogue like Newt Gingrich ever become speaker of the House?

A – BILL CLINTON.

From Sabato:

Democrats were delirious when Bill Clinton restored them to power in 1992, a euphoria that lasted until his unpopularity pushed both houses of Congress to Republican control two years later. Despite a marginal improvement in Democratic fortunes during the rest of Clinton’s administration, the party registered a net loss of 11 governorships, seven Senate seats, 45 House seats, 524 state legislative berths, and 18 state legislative chambers.

George W. Bush’s long-term losses were more modest. Nonetheless, with Bush’s sharp drop in job approval because of his handling of the Iraq War and Katrina (plus GOP congressional scandals), Democrats regained full control of Congress in 2006, and in 2008 secured outright majorities in 60 of the states’ 98 legislative chambers (excluding Nebraska’s nonpartisan unicameral body).

However, it is Barack Obama who holds the modern record for overall losses, at least through 2014. President Obama has presided over two devastating midterms for his party. From 2008 to the present, Democrats in the Obama era have racked up net forfeitures of 11 governorships, 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats, 913 state legislative seats, and 30 state legislative chambers. In the latter three categories, Obama has doubled (or more) the average two-term presidential loss from Truman through Bush.

For Texas Republicans, a Clinton presidency would be healing and unifying.

But, if Trump were elected president Texas would be deep red … with blood everywhere.

You’d have a President Trump trying to lay low Lyin’ Ted and, presumably vice versa, and a Gov. Abbott having to look to a third term as governor before he could fulfill his destiny, and every other Texas Republican having to choose sides or look for cover.

 

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Meanwhile, Robert Caro may be still immersed in LBJ,  but, if he could spare a few years or a decade, it would be great if he could bring his prodigious talents to bear on the making of President Donald Trump.

I have a title all ready for him: Donald Trump: Means of Descent.

It’s a play on Trump’s famous descent on the escalator at Trump Tower when he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, and also a nod toward how Trump has coarsened American politics.

And here is the extended play version.

But, Means of Descent also refers to Trump’s money quote from Wednesday night’s Commander-in-Chief Forum on NBC.

MATT LAUER: Mr. Trump, as you know, tensions between the United States and Russia have been at the highest level since the Cold War. In your first 120 days of presidency, how would you de-escalate the tensions? And more importantly, what steps would you take to bring Mr. Putin and the Russian government back to negotiating table?

TRUMP: I think I would have a very good relationship with many foreign leaders. I think it’s very sad, when you look at Barack Obama, as an example, lands Air Force One in China, and they don’t want to put out stairs to get off the plane. And he has to use the stairs that mechanics use to get up and down to fix the plane. They wouldn’t give him stairs

I think Trump has a point.

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In advance of the forum, I received an email from the Trump campaign.

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At first I was excited to be representing my zip code – the mighty 78722 – in the Commander-in-Chief Forum focus group. Then I felt guilty that maybe I had stolen that honor from a legit Trump supporter, not someone signed up just to keep an eye on things.

But guilt quickly gave way to suspicion. Maybe I wasn’t the only one chosen to represent my zip. Maybe everyone on their list was told they were representing his or her zip code. Maybe it wasn’t such as special honor after all.

Either way, I took it seriously enough to submit a question in the space provided.

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I’ll await Trump’s answer

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