'Conventional wisdom' could boost both Abbott, Davis

'Conventional wisdom' could boost both Abbott, Davis

'Conventional wisdom' could boost both Abbott, Davis

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by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on October 10, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 10 at 7:03 PM

AUSTIN -- The title reads simply, "The Gov." 
 
The latest issue of Texas Monthly echoes what has become almost a foregone conclusion among many political observers in Texas: That Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is almost certain to become the state's next governor. 
 
"If you're a candidate and you're proclaimed the winner before election day, that only helps you," said Bill Miller, a Texas political consultant who has advised both Democratic and Republican candidates. Miller says that sense of inevitability is rare, and acts like an afterburner when it comes to raising money and recruiting supporters. 
 
"If you can get it, it's beautiful," said Miller. "It seldom occurs, but it's happening for him right now." 
 
The conventional wisdom has been that although demographic changes, particularly a surging Hispanic population which has traditionally leaned in favor of Democrats, may be shifting towards the state becoming more competitive, it will still be a few more years before Democrats are able to break their two decade losing streak on the statewide ballot.
 
Yet Abbott's allies are taking no chances. The same day state Sen. Wendy Davis announced her bid for governor, the Republican Party of Texas rolled out a new website and video attacking the Fort Worth Democrat. On Wednesday, the Republican National Committee launched a campaign to court Hispanic voters through the Texas Hispanic Engagement team.
 
The strategy to intensify focus on shifting demographics is similar to that already put into play by Battleground Texas, a campaign organization launched earlier this year in an effort to swing Texas from Republican red to Democrat blue. The group has turned its attention on bolstering support for Davis through registering voters and turning out the grassroots.
 
"History is littered with foregone conclusions who've never made it past post," said Democratic political consultant Jason Stanford, who says Davis is a rockstar candidate unlike anyone Republicans have faced in recent memory. 
 
"There's an underdog, and then there's a hopeless longshot. She's not a hopeless longshot, which is what the Republicans are trying to say," said Stanford. "They're trying to shut this down before it gets going because they haven't seen a candidate like Wendy Davis in a long time."    
 
And the underdog role comes with its own set of advantages.  
 
"Inevitability breeds overconfidence and apathy, which are murderous to campaigns," said Miller, adding that a surge in the campaign tends to be amplified when the candidate is seen as longshot. "If she is able to make a move, it will be seen as stronger than it really is, and so the underdog status works in her favor. An error helps her and apathy on the other side helps her."
 
Of course even the seemingly inevitable conclusion comes with a qualifier: That is, as the Texas Monthly cover suggests, "Barring an unlikely occurrence." 
 
"Anybody can win any race at any time," said Miller. "General Abbott starts ahead; Davis is an attractive candidate. She can win this race, but to do so she has to run a perfect campaign and the Abbott campaign has to make some grievous errors. And we'll see if either of those occur."
 
Meanwhile all of Texas will be watching. 

 

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