GOP Frets Hillary Could Win Texas in 2016

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 22 2013 12:47 PM

Could Hillary Turn Texas Blue in 2016?

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Texas Democrats and Republicans both see a Hillary Clinton presidential run as a possible game-changer in the Lone Star State

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Over at Real Clear Politics, Scott Conroy has an interesting look at how Democrats are hoping to turn Texas blue in the next presidential election. Obviously, that's a long shot. The Lone Star State hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since they did so for Jimmy Carter back in 1976. (Meanwhile, no Democrat has even won statewide office since 1994, and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate has only managed to top the 40-percent mark once since then.) Still, state Democrats appear to have hope for two reasons: The first is the state's changing demographics fueled by a rapidly growing Latino population, which would, in theory at least, help Democrats. The Second? Hillary Clinton.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

That Democrats believe that a Hillary presidential campaign would be a game-changer isn't exactly surprising given her name recognition and political resume. However, what is (at least slightly) is that even Republicans are conceding that the former secretary of state could make Texas more competitive than it's been in years:

“If she’s the nominee, I would say that this is a ‘lean Republican’ state but not a ‘solid Republican’ state,” [Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri] said. “I don’t know anyone nationally who’s scoffing at this. The national party leadership is aware and tells me they’re taking it seriously.”
Munisteri said that he has had recent discussions with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus about the need to prepare for a significant change in the political dynamic here, noting that the need will likely become even more pressing in the next decade. That’s when Texas is expected to see its minority population rise more sharply—as it adds as many as four additional electoral votes to make it an even shinier target for Democrats than it already is.
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Obviously, taking a candidate seriously and fearing she could actually pull off the upset are two different things. Munisteri even went on to stress that things would need to fall pretty much perfectly for Hillary for Democrats to take the state's 38 electoral votes in four years time. Still, even that possibility appears to have state and national party leaders significantly more nervous than you'd expect given Mitt Romney carried the state by 16 points this past November.

Clinton, of course, says she has no interest in a presidential run. But despite that she has continued to dominate (very!) early polling, thanks in part to her nearly unrivaled name recognition. In a survey released last month by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, Clinton held narrow leads in Texas in hypothetical match-ups with the GOP's current men of the moment Marco Rubio (46 percent to 45) and Chris Christie (45 percent to 43). Meanwhile, she bested Texas's own Rick Perry by 12 points.

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