From The Houston Chronicle:
Texas has once again shattered vote registration records, adding more than 1.5 million voters since the last presidential election.
Texas now surpassed 16.6 million voters, according to the latest numbers announced Tuesday by Texas Secretary of State Ruth R. Hughs. And there are still almost two more weeks to add more.
“Ahead of the November election, I encourage all eligible Texans who have not already done so to register to vote by October 5th so that they can help shape the future of the Lone Star State,” Hughs said.
In the four previous presidential election cycles, Texas added about 700,000 new voters on average — less than half as many as have been added this cycle.
The Texas Tribune has voter registration info if you still need to register. Click here.
CBS News Battleground Tracker polls on Sunday showed Trump with a 48% to 46% edge in Texas and Biden with the same lead in Florida. Biden led by six points in a CBS poll of Floridians back in July, but Trump over the last several weeks has gained more of the state’s undecided voters. Trump’s two-point lead in Texas is a one-point bump from two months ago.
The incumbent Republican won both states over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016. In both states, most likely voters trust Trump over Biden when it comes to handling the economy, the poll showed. Forty-nine percent of voters in Florida think Trump would do a better job with the economy, compared to 44% for Biden; the gap is wider in Texas, 50% for Trump and 42% for Biden.
CBS noted that Biden has a significant edge on health care, with 54% of likely voters in Florida saying a Biden administration would improve access to affordable health care, compared to 33% for a Trump administration.
Kathy Schneider worked as a Dallas County election clerk in 2018, but out of concern about the coronavirus, she’s choosing not to this year.
“I am 64 and really not interested in exposing myself to coronavirus any more than I need to do,” Schneider said.
Instead, she’s volunteering as a poll watcher for the Democratic party, which she can do outdoors and distanced in a parking lot.
Texas is preparing for a general election for which election officials are expecting unprecedented turnout — and unprecedented demand for election workers. The general election will require local election officials to hire more election clerks because of an extended early voting period, new cleaning and disinfection protocols, and expectations that more people will use curbside voting and mail-in ballots.
Historically, elections have been staffed by older retirees, a demographic that is particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. A lack of people willing to work because of the pandemic caused some Texas’ counties to close down polling locations during the July primary runoffs. And some officials are concerned that could happen again this fall.
There are now some signs Democrats are taking Texas more seriously, with the Biden campaign running TV ads and hiring staff on the ground over the past six weeks. A Democratic super PAC focused on Texas launched a month ago with an aim to augment Biden’s paid-media presence.
Political analysts have said it’s only a matter of time before Texas becomes a battleground state. The state last backed a Democrat for president in 1976, and Republicans have held state legislative chambers and the governorship since 2003. But its demographics are quickly changing. Texas is becoming increasingly urban, and Hispanics are on track to become its largest population group by mid-2021, two trends that generally favor Democrats.
The long-promised transformation has been slow to arrive, however, even if the state is clearly shifting leftward: Trump won the presidential election by 9 percentage points in 2016, a much smaller margin of victory than Mitt Romney’s 16 points in 2012.
The Texas Democratic Party (TDP) on Monday announced the launch of a $500,000 digital ad buy aimed at driving Texans to the polls in November.
The messaging, which will appear on social media platforms, is part of the party's Get Out the Vote campaign, an initiative that has run most of the year with the goal of getting 2 million previously unregistered Texans signed up to vote. It's the first phase of a seven-figure ad buy TDP announced at the end of July.
“With the voter registration deadline two weeks from today, our ads are targeting high-potential voters who will likely vote blue if we talk to them about the importance of voting,” TDP senior brand director Brittany Switzer said in a statement. “Our path to victory is clear and we’re implementing what we need to fulfill it. The margins for this election are going to be incredibly small.”
The battle to replace Justice Ginsburg will have historic effects on the national political and legislative landscape, including on the question of access to abortion.
It also is apt to shape Republican Texas U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s bid for a fourth term this November. And while it may not be immediately intuitive, the national political conflict is also influencing Texas House races on voters' ballots. These forces are all colliding during what already had the potential to be a generational turning point in Texas politics.
Ginsburg died Friday due to complications from pancreatic cancer. A day later, President Donald Trump said he would announce his nominee — who will be a woman — this week. Both of the state's senators, Cornyn and Ted Cruz, are expected to support the nominee. But in 2016, both Republican men supported waiting until after that year's presidential election to hold hearings for a nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died more than eight months before the election. Cornyn said at the time that his position was partially predicated on the fact that Democratic President Barack Obama was about to be term-limited and Republicans had recently taken control of the chamber.
That might explain why Coronavirus Cornyn is eager to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat. Yesterday, from The Houston Chronicle:
As President Donald Trump prepares to swiftly name a Supreme Court nominee in hopes of having Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement approved by the election, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and other Republicans are saying there’s no need to rush.
But Cornyn was clear: The Senate should move to fill the high court vacancy before the end of the year, whether or not Trump and the GOP Senate majority — including Cornyn himself — will be returning to Washington in 2021.
“Just as the Senate has always done, we will thoroughly review the qualifications. We should not rush that process. It should be conducted carefully and consistently with how the Senate has previously handled Supreme Court nominations,” Cornyn, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said during a speech on the Senate floor on Monday. “The Senate will vote on that nominee sometime this year.”
And yesterday from the Austin-Statesman:
“Our friends on the other side of the aisle have tried to compare this to the vacancy in 2016, but the facts were different,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor. “At that point we had a president of one party in his final year in office and the Senate majority of another party. … The other difference is President Obama was not on the ballot in 2016, so it made sense for the American people to weigh in.”
But Cornyn did not say whether the Senate should press to hold a confirmation vote before the election.
“We will thoroughly review the qualifications and experiences of whomever the president nominates,” he said. “When that process is complete, the Senate will vote on that nominee some time this year.”
Cornyn, who is seeking a fourth term in November, also told CNN on Monday that “of course” Republicans would confirm a Trump nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, even if Trump lost his reelection bid.
His Democratic opponent MJ Hegar called on senators to wait until January to fill the vacancy.
“By flagrantly violating precedent they themselves championed when it served their agenda, Sens. Cornyn, Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mitch McConnell are showing the American people once again that they lack the integrity to act in the best interests of our country,” Hegar said in a statement. “We will determine who we are as a country on Nov. 3, and it should be the president and Senate we elect who select a qualified individual to serve a lifetime appointment.”
In a new Spanish-language campaign ad, Sen. John Cornyn tells Texas voters that “he strongly supports the legalization of Dreamers.”
Democrats and immigrant advocates call the claim cynically misleading, citing a raft of votes the three-term Republican cast against versions of the Dream Act – which would provide permanent legal status for immigrants brought into the country illegally as children – in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2018.
During a call with reporters, Frank Sharry, executive director of progressive group America’s Voice, described Cornyn as a politician who publicly talks up immigration reform but consistently works to stymie it. In 2006, for example, Democrats accused Cornyn of inserting a “poison pill” amendment into a bipartisan bill that could have become the most expansive immigration overhaul in 20 years.
“Cornyn’s claim that he strongly supports the legalization of Dreamers is a bald-faced lie,” Sharry said. “When you look up the phrase 'two-faced politician,' you’ll find a photo of John Cornyn.”
Immigrant-rights activist Julieta Garibay said Cornyn has shown no interest over the years in helping Dreamers or enacting serious immigration reform.
“In my 15 years organizing, countless times we went to his office in D.C. and had actions in his offices across the state to no avail,” she added. “To be clear, Cornyn is anti-immigrant, anti-Dreamer and anti-worker.”
Hegar has been pushing her campaign into the national spotlight:
And Morning Consult confirmed this is another tight race:
Don’t forget to sign up for the Beers with Beto Virtual Fundraiser tonight:
I’d love to celebrate our hard work with you. And, with 43 days still to go, it would be good to bring everyone together to talk about what we’re doing to make sure we win the most important elections of our lives.
Powered by People is all about registering and turning out voters to win critical elections, like these important Texas House races all over the state. But we’re also about building a community of dedicated volunteers who have found purpose and function in the tough work necessary to save our democracy.
Sometimes a beer, or two, helps to bring us closer together. At least that’s how I justify it.
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This should be fun!
I look forward to seeing you soon,
PS – back when it was possible, we’d often celebrate a hard day’s block walk with some beers and fellowship. Here is a look back to spending time with our Powered by People team in Fort Bend:
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