With high inflation, high crime rates, an on-going crisis at the border, and President Biden's approval ratings in the mid-40s, many political pundits predicted that there would be a huge "Red Wave" on election day, with Republicans sweeping most of the competitive congressional, state, and local races. As it turned out, Democrats managed to hold our own. While it appears Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives by an extremely thin margin (less than 5 seats), Democrats may retain control of the Senate (depending on the outcomes in Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia). In most of the congressional and state races (with the notable exception of Florida and Texas), our Democratic candidates generally outperformed their recent polling data. In the competitive races, voters generally preferred moderate, well-qualified candidates over the far right (often Trump-endorsed) candidates. That said, unconditional voter loyalty to political party did allow some candidates (both incumbents and challengers) to prevail despite corruption allegations, poor job performance, and/or obvious incompetence. Overall, however, given the prior prediction of a "Red Wave", President Biden was pleased with the election results (see link below).
In all Texas statewide races, our Democratic candidates were soundly defeated, including Beto O'Rourke, Mike Collier, and Rochelle Garza. To win future statewide elections, the Democratic Party needs to nominate moderate, mainstream candidates who can appeal to both rural and urban voters. In short, our candidates should support legal (not illegal) immigration, border security, law enforcement, the military, low property taxes, civil liberties, investments in our infrastructure, better healthcare, and improvements to our educational system (while respecting parental input). Our candidates must support a person's right to own a handgun, shotgun, and/or hunting rifle, but should advocate for restrictions on military-style weapons (e.g., AK-47, AR-15). Our candidates should be pro-choice, in accordance with the guidance provided under Roe v. Wade. They should support renewable energy AND responsible oil and gas drilling (yes, we can both). Our candidates must also publicly reject the radical positions advocated by some members in the progressive wing of our Party (Critical Race Theory, "defund the police", transgenders in women's sports, socialism, open borders, etc.). In summary, if we want to win, our candidates must be tailored to the views of mainstream Texas voters. If our Democratic candidates can dominate the urban areas, win in the suburbs, and at least be competitive in the rural areas, we CAN win statewide elections. Can this strategy work? Well, it already has. Take a look at the Democratic candidates who have won statewide races in purple and red states (West Virgina, Kansas, Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Montana, etc.). The thing they all have in common is that their positions are a good fit for the majority of their electorate. Enough said.
In Harris County, most of our local Democrats in county-wide races won by slim margins, usually 51% - 49%. Democrats did lose several local judicial races. It is notable that Beto O'Rourke carried Harris County by over 8%, but our local Democratic candidates barely won. This indicates that a sizable number of local Democratic voters appeared to split their vote, supporting O'Rourke for Governor, but then voting for Republicans in the county-wide races (for an example, see the election charts below). The slim margins and large number of split-ticket Democratic voters should be a warning sign to our local Democratic officials that they need to do a much better job addressing the issues important to Harris County residents (e.g. crime, corruption, wasteful spending, high taxes, flood control). While demographics strongly favor Democratic candidates in Harris County, we can't take our voters for granted. Frankly, without the prior Democratic gerrymandering of Commissioner Precincts 2 and 4, we doubt Democrats Adrian Garcia and Lesley Briones would have won their races.
With the election over, we urge our Harris County Democrats to be magnanimous in victory. To help facilitate future election victories, now is the time to turn adversaries into allies. There's no reason our elected Democratic leaders should be fighting with local police organizations, Crime Stoppers, religious leaders (Ed Young), the media, crime victims, or successful, popular business leaders (Mattress Mack). If our victorious Democratic officials will now reach out to those groups and offer to work with them to proactively address their primary concern (violent crime), perhaps we can turn those groups into future allies. As LBJ once said, "Better to have your enemies inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in." Our Democratic officials have the support of 51% of Harris County voters... let's demonstrate servant leadership, mend some fences, and try to get the other 49% on board. Remember, getting 51% of the vote isn't exactly a mandate or landslide. In the future, we must (and can) do better.
Anyway, those are our initial thoughts on the 2022 election. This blog post will be updated when all the House of Representatives and Senate election results are known. Stay tuned!
For a recap of our 2022 candidate endorsements, and to view state and local election results, please click on the link below:
EXAMPLE OF DEMOCRATS SPLITTING THEIR VOTE - Democrat Beto O'Rourke received 592,494 votes in Harris County, while local incumbent Democrat Lina Hidalgo only received 549,999 votes (42,495 less). Said another way, local Republican Alexandra Mealer received 44,288 more votes in Harris County than Republican Greg Abbott (see charts below).
FOR MORE POSTS, please routinely check HarrisCountyDemocrats.com.