Friday, October 31, 2008

Can Obama outperform in Texas?

Barack Obama is not trying to win in Texas. We have clearly been written off as a solid red McCain state, and I can’t much blame them. Texas hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter in 1976. I have no expectations that is going to change this year, especially with the campaign making no effort in this state. But I am curious how well Obama will do despite not trying. Will he do better than previous Democrats?
The high-water mark for a Democrat in Texas since 1980 was the 44 percent of the vote that Bill Clinton drew in 1996 during his successful re-election race against Bob Dole and Ross Perot. Every other Democrat has drawn less support as a percentage (I’m not sure about total votes). In 1980, Carter won 41 percent of the vote in Texas. Four years later, Walter Mondale set the low mark with just 36 percent of the vote. Hell, I didn’t even vote for Mondale that year.
In 1988, Michael Dukakis (with some help from Lloyd Bentsen) managed to get 43 percent of the Texan vote. Clinton took an unimpressive 37 percent his first time around in 1992 against Carpetbagger Bush and Ross Perot at the height of his popularity.
Since 2000, Democrats have been stuck at 38 percent which is what both Gore and Kerry polled against the former Governor of Texas.
But what about this year? There are no Texans on the ticket on either side for the first time since 1976, and the polling average for the state currently has Obama at 43.5 percent. So will he do better than Clinton in ‘96? What’s your guess?

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