A Sanity Backlash?

In a recent column for the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin suggests that Texas Republicans may be doing something Democrats have been unable to do: they may be turning the Lone Star State blue.

Rubin says the GOP has alienated so many voters outside its hardcore base, it has  put the state in play in 2022, when the state will elect a governor in addition to the usual congressional  and local contests.

A new Quinnipiac poll suggests Republicans’ radicalism has put them at odds with a majority of Texas voters. In the wake of the Texas law offering bounties to “turn in” those seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest, the poll reports that 77 percent of state residents say abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest, including 66 percent of Republicans. Some 72 percent of Texans do not want the law enforced, and 60 percent want to keep Roe v. Wade in place.

Even on a quintessentially Texan issue such as guns, voters are not in sync with MAGA politicians. The pollsters found: “Roughly two-thirds (67 percent) of voters, including 58 percent of gun owners, say allowing anyone 21 years of age or older to carry handguns without a license or training makes Texas less safe, while 26 percent say it makes Texas safer. Half of voters (50 percent) say it’s too easy to carry a handgun in Texas, while 44 percent say it’s about right, and 4 percent say it’s too difficult.”

When it comes to the GOP’s incomprehensible posturing on the pandemic, the results are equally negative for Abbott and his hard-core supporters in the state legislature: polling shows that Texas voters are much closer to the positions taken by President Biden than to Abbott. Texans opine  47 – 38 percent that Abbott is hurting rather than helping efforts to slow the spread of COVID–and majorities support vaccine mandates.

Those numbers evidently persuaded Matthew Dowd, who was a former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, to run for lieutenant governor–as a Democrat.

Dowd is betting that Texans want something other than pandering to the MAGA base. “The Texas Republican politicians are completely out of step with Texas values like integrity and community and no longer govern with common sense, common decency or for the common good,” he told me on Saturday. “They put their ‘me’ over our ‘we.’ ”

If Rubin is right–if Democrats can win Texas despite the frantic gerrymandering and the  various efforts to make it harder for urban and suburban voters to cast a ballot, we may finally be seeing the results of a political strategy that has always seemed short-sighted to me: relying almost entirely on turning out the GOP base.

In order to “motivate” that increasingly rabid base, the GOP has increased its appeals to racism, conspiracy theories and general fear-mongering. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who claim the Republican label continues to shrink. Earlier this year, Gallup reported that–even when they included independents who “lean toward the GOP,” they could come up with only 40%, compared with 49% of Democrats and independents leaning  Democratic.

It’s worth noting, too, that not all of those Republicans and Republican “leaners” are part of the base. I personally know a number of people who still claim the label, but report being repelled by the current  iteration of a party that is anything but the adult, conservative political party they originally joined.

The problem with relying on a shrinking base is similar to the problem faced by drug addicts: you need bigger “hits” to produce the same high. But the crazier and meaner the party gets, the greater  the number of voters it turns off.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but there does seem to be evidence that we’ve rounded a corner–that the GOP’s manifest preference for acting out over governing has finally gone too far for the majority of citizens who will find their way to the polls in upcoming elections.

Whatever their policy differences, Democrats, Independents and the few remaining sane Republicans can all come together under that well-worn slogan: It’s time for a change.


  1. I’ve heard there is a female Latino also running for Governor that is gaining attention.

    I’m waiting for Republicans in Florida to turn on DeSantis as well. Republican rule has turned their pristine waters into environmental hazards.

    The only downside is the Big Tent Democratic Party will become even more conservative, a slide that started in the 80s and then accelerated under Clinton. We were making headway, as evidenced by the flexing of muscles the past several weeks in Washington. Manchin and Sinema are more Republican than Democrat.

    We do not need the status quo in Washington. We need a hard left turn, or we will be slamming into World War III and economic and environmental calamity.

  2. “In the wake of the Texas law offering bounties to “turn in” those seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest, the poll reports that 77 percent of state residents say abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest, including 66 percent of Republicans. Some 72 percent of Texans do not want the law enforced, and 60 percent want to keep Roe v. Wade in place.”

    The meaning of that old song, “The Eyes Of Texas Are Upon You” have changed to all eyes being on one part of all women’s anatomy. SCOTUS appears to be in the same situation with Trump’s THREE appointees, who stated they would uphold past SCOTUS decisions, when asked about Roe vs. Wade, as they lied their way through their Senate hearings. This puts a great deal of power into the hands of women who could deny access to the portion of our anatomy leading to the uterus to all of those old men in government at local, state and federal levels who have taken control of women’s health decisions. It all pertains to male denomination wanting to keep women barefoot, pregnant and in our kitchens.

    “Whatever their policy differences, Democrats, Independents and the few remaining sane Republicans can all come together under that well-worn slogan: It’s time for a change.”

    It is long past time for a change in priorities in this country; sex, guns and religion have proven to be unsuccessful campaign foundations to retain democracy, Rule of Law and uphold the Constitution.

  3. If Matthew Dowd were to become Lt. Governor, Texas would undergo a major change. The Lt. Governor in Texas than the Governor. He decides who will run the state agencies, and he is the majority leader in the state Senate. The governor just signs bills, issues pardons, and gives press conferences.

  4. Remember that Covid has also eliminated quite a few Republican voters. May they Rest In Peace and may their families be protected and comforted.

  5. Indiana is not one of the 37 states where Cannabis is at least legal for medicine, yet every poll in the last three years shows supermajority numbers supporting legalization across the board. Democrats have been on board with that for years, but as we all know, Republicans have super majority status in the General Assembly. Rank and file Republican voters want it. Yet Governor Holcomb and other Republican leadership refuses to acknowledge the disparity. When will the Republican voters realize this and support someone else?

  6. I keep praying that the Republicans have gone too far and that the voters are going to reject them, but (there’s always a but) I know the Dems well enough to know that they have an uncanny knack for pulling defeat from the jaws of victory. There are two things the Dems must do before the next election: 1) Pass the crucial voting rights bills that will halt the states’ efforts to codify new rules that allow Republicans to overturn any election they don’t like. 2) Pass the Build Back Better Act. Dems have to get their own base psyched and ready to vote.

  7. When us guys start getting preggers, only then should we be allowed to decide what is best for women’s reproductive health decisions.

  8. Why should Indiana legalize Cannabis since they do not enforce the laws against it now? My neighborhood is ripe with the stuff.

  9. I would jump for joy if Texas started turning blue or at least purple. I know that many in the GOP have been turned off by the MAGA fanatics. It’s obvious that their state legislature and governor are out of touch with what their citizens want. I will bet they are not only out of touch with voters’ stances on a woman’s reproductive rights but on many other issues as well i.e. their power grid.

    The problem remains that we still have to figure out how to pull the rug out from under the GOP despite politicized gerrymandering.

    Here’s hoping that Matthew Dowd can start to change the political landscape of Texas.

  10. Points made in the Washington Post article may make reasoned, logical sense; but since when does reason or logic enter into political loyalty? “My mama and daddy were (Democrats/Republicans), so by gawd, I’m a (Democrat/Republican)!”
    Most are programmed at an early age and don’t let facts get in the way of loyalty.

  11. The question is all these people from these polls opposed to Reactionary GOP politicians will the blow back translate into voting for the Democrats???

    I would agree with Peggy @ 8:37 am, “I know the Dems well enough to know that they have an uncanny knack for pulling defeat from the jaws of victory”.

    The Dems need to stay on track with the issues.

    I watched interesting program the other day on Lincoln and the Civil War. From Wiki: Lincoln’s victory and imminent inauguration as president was the immediate cause for declarations of secession by seven Southern states (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas) from 20 December 1860 to 1 February 1861. They then formed the Confederate States of America.

    Stop the steal and charges of fraud soon followed Biden’s election victory. The January Coup instigated by The Trumpet was an attempt to nullify the election of Biden. It was with the conniving cowardly attempts by the GOP to over throw the election with the counting of the electoral votes that demonstrated the total disregard for the rule of law.

    The Reactionary GOP should not be underestimated in their fanatical zeal to rig the outcome of an election in their favor through any means possible.

  12. The concentration of illiberal power in the Republican Party due to the successful multi-decade entertainment media business plan alternative of playing to that brand of the audience could have succeeded if they had not gotten greedy and Trumped themselves. It’s an old story. Schemes lose patience as they become successful beyond their expectations and declare victory before its time and go for the gold thinking it’s inevitable.

    Kevin McCarthy doomed his party when he made his famous pilgrimage to Mara Lago right after Jan 6th.

    The problem took three plus decades to reach its peak and the fall will be quicker but not instantaneous. Fox News turned 25 yesterday and apparently has become more and more yesterday’s news.

    It’s a time to up democracy’s game, not make the same mistake that illiberals have, but in my view, a corner has been turned.

  13. Don’t get too excited. Have you seen China Joe’s poll numbers? Have you seen this headline: “Democrat Terry McAuliffe: Joe Biden’s Unpopularity Creating ‘Headwinds’ For My Campaign.” I guess you can always “dream” about Texas.

  14. I worry more about maintaining electoral advantages in Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvanian than I do flipping Texas. Unless federal election and voting legislation is passed before Nov. 22 one, two or all three could flip to red.

    I see only one path to victory for a Dem in the Indiana Governor’s mansion in ‘24 and that’s Secretary Mayor Pete runs. It’s no coincidence that his former aid and campaign manager is the new chair of the state party. But it will require a massive blue turnout and the support of an active Libertarian candidate to siphon away GQP votes as they did in 2020 (11.4%).

    It would be a slugfest of an election against either Braun or Rokita and I’m not certain what Pete would hope to gain from four or eight years in the office – continually battling entrenched GQP majorities in both houses of the General Assembly – likely getting nothing accomplished. Not a good launchpad for a later run at a national office.

  15. I’ve been hearing Texas is turning “purple” and that Democrats “have a chance” for the past dozen years. As the Zen Master said, “We’ll see.”*

    *Charlie Wilson’s War”

  16. I would love to believe that the current GOP leaders will finally drive their voters away, but I share the worry that Sam expressed. Growing up in Detroit, we just to joke about the Polish Palsy, where if any of the reliably Democratic Polish Catholics reached for a Republican lever (old voting machines), their hand would shake uncontrollably. I believe that there is a “Red Palsy” in place, where the voter would say, “I can’t stand what they are doing with my party, but I can’t abandon them, and I could never vote for a Democrat”.

    Note to mike from iowa – I will never remove myself from a political decision due to my race, religion, sex, education level, or whatever. I can clearly make a decision on reproductive rights – it should be totally up to the woman including consultation with her doctor (HER doctor, not the State’s), and if she wishes her religious advisor. Her final decision. End of story.

    Todd – I have a different take on trends.
    Clinton – Liberals/Progressives are bad and shouldn’t be listened to
    Obama – Liberals/Progressives are well meaning but unrealistic and have no place at the table (he said he would listen to any idea for what became the ACA, except Medicare for all – or other “progressive” ideas)
    Biden – Liberals/Progressives have moved his agenda in their direction.
    Just a viewpoint

    Patrick – while I have been a strong supporter of Pete (now Secretary Pete) since I met him in 2010 down in French Lick, I don’t know if this is the time for Pete to try another state-wide run. Still, it is an intriguing idea, especially since the Indiana Democrats really have a small “bench”.

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