AUSTIN -- While Texas Democrats anxiously await word whether state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) will run for governor, an upstart political organization hopes to swing elections in Democrats' favor statewide.
The work is being done in a tiny office hidden away on Austin's East Sixth Street, just across Interstate 35 from the city's downtown core. Working phones and crunching numbers, Battleground Texas has one aim: To turn Texas from Republican red to Democrat blue, and recent months have given them hope.
"There are people who are giving up their free time to come do phone banks," said senior fellow Will Davies, alternating between his phone and laptop in preparation for a volunteer event later in the evening. "They're calling people to get people organized here in Austin and across the state, and there's an enthusiasm level which I was just unprepared for."
Launched by veterans of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, the organization is using the same technological and organizational innovations that strategists from both parties have called game-changing.
"We talk about data and analytics," explained state field director Alex Steele, who led Obama to victory twice in the former red state of Colorado before setting his sights on Texas.
With 38 electoral votes, Texas is the single most populous Republican state. Yet Steele says Texas' changing demographics, particularly a surging Hispanic community, make it ripe for change. The state suffers from relatively low voter turnout, and step one for Democrats is turning that around.
"That means registering more voters, and just as importantly, that means talking to those voters that are registered but just haven't been engaged in the process in a very long time," said Steele, adding one of the lessons from the Obama campaign has been more strategic and efficient outreach.
But even with new candidates who have stirred passions among the Democratic base, any change likely won't happen overnight. Texans voted for Mitt Romney by double digits in 2012, and hasn't seen a Democratic governor in office since Ann Richards' defeat in 1994.
"I think the reality is somewhat more subtle and more gradual," said Texas Politics Project Director and University of Texas Professor James R. Henson. While Democrats have learned to become an effective minority through their experience with the most recent special legislative sessions, Henson says the road to majority won't be easy.
"What you're going to see is a process of rebuilding and learning," said Henson. "And in essence, I think the rebuilding is almost the wrong thing. You have to build a new Democratic party, and that's what I think we may have seen the beginning of."
Steele admits Battleground Texas' plan will take time, but brushes aside the idea that the organization has set an impossible goal.
"Change is possible," said Steele. "And it's possible much sooner than most folks on the other side might think."