State Watch

Texas Democrats to conduct ‘deep dive’ analysis after disappointing election cycle

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The Texas Democratic Party is forming a committee to conduct a “deep dive” on what went wrong for candidates up and down the ballot this year in the Lone Star State, which had been a top target for Democrats but failed to produce any key victories.

Gilberto Hinojosa, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a recent letter to members of the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) and chairs of county parties that the committee will conduct a postmortem as the party looks to regroup following the demoralizing defeats.

“The Party is committed to conducting a ‘deep dive’ analysis of the election, using outside persons or entities, and partnering with other allied groups to fund it if necessary. I believe that it is appropriate to form a committee of the SDEC, along with Democratic elected officials and candidates, to help formulate the scope of the analysis and select the entity or persons conducting the analysis, as well as oversee the process as it is being conducted,” Hinojosa said in the letter, which was obtained by The Hill.

“Once the analysis is completed, the committee can submit recommendations to the SDEC and the Chair, as to what appropriate action(s) to take, including certain changes in leadership.” 

News of the letter was first reported by The Texas Tribune.

The announcement comes after Democrats drastically underperformed expectations in Texas, long a white whale for the party.

President Trump won the state by 6 points, while Sen. John Cornyn (R) breezed by his challenger by 10 points. Democrats also failed to flip a number of highly competitive House seats, and the margin in the GOP-controlled state House remained the same even though Democrats said they were favored to flip the chamber.

Looking back on the losses, Democrats pointed to faulty polls that showed races far more competitive than they ended up being, as well as the hindered ability to campaign in person during the coronavirus pandemic and Trump’s ability to supercharge turnout among rural voters, which buoyed Republicans down the ballot.

“National directives from the Biden campaign and the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] prevented the Texas Democratic Party, and the Democratic candidates for Congress that were targeted (6-10 that received funding), from in-person canvassing. Voters were contacted only through phone, text, direct mail, and the media. The Chair, and others, expressed concerns about whether we could be successful without direct person canvassing, especially since the Republicans were doing canvassing,” Hinojosa wrote.

“However, polling throughout the election cycle in almost every race showed that our candidates would succeed without the direct person canvassing. The polling was conducted by the allied groups such as HDCC [Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee] and the candidates, although some limited polling was conducted at the request of the Party. As we know today, the polling turned out to be hugely inaccurate.”

The losses led to complaints among a number of state Democrats, including 38 SDEC members who sent a letter to the party pressing for a change in leadership and a review of the party’s finances, among other things.

However, Hinojosa’s response appears to have calmed the waters with at least some of the frustrated Democrats, who said they were pleased with the party chair’s letter.

“After this election, Texans deserve a Democratic Party that will look itself in the mirror and figure out what went wrong. Chairman Hinojosa has been extremely responsive and has shown swift action to address our concerns, and I am very grateful for his leadership,” said Kendall Scudder, an SDEC member who helped organize the letter to the party. “I look forward to seeing the detailed findings of this independent committee and using those results to build a more accountable, transparent and competitive party ahead of the 2022 elections.”

Tags Canvassing Democratic Party Donald Trump John Cornyn Texas Democratic Party
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