By Jeremy Bird, Battleground Texas Founder
We haven’t been getting a lot of good news recently, from Donald Trump’s electoral college victory to the divisive and even racist figures he is bringing into his Cabinet and White House team. Many of us are scared about the future and spending a lot of time figuring out how to push back.
There’s no way to sugar-coat it: the result of the 2016 presidential election is hard to swallow.
But that’s why Texas gives me such hope. Democratic wins in the Lone Star state are always hard-fought — and Texans have always had the grit and tenacity to keep moving forward, even when results of an election weren’t what was wanted. During these dark times, the numbers and wins we’ve seen in Texas give us all reason to believe that better times are ahead:
1. A record number of Texans registered to vote.
Texas had 15.1 million registered voters this year, up from 13.6 million in 2012. We fundamentally believe that it’s good for small “d” democracy when more people are engaged in the process.
2. A record number of Texans turned out to vote.
A record 8.9 million Texans cast ballots. That’s up from 8 million in 2012 and 8.1 million in 2008.
3. Trump won Texas by a smaller margin than any other Republican presidential candidate in recent history.
Together with progressive partners across the state, Battleground Texas helped make the presidential election more competitive than it has been for many cycles. In 2012, Romney won Texas by 15.8 points. This year, Trump won Texas by only 9 points — that margin is in line with the results in Ohio (8.1 points) and in Iowa (9.4 points), both battleground states where millions of dollars were spent on huge campaigns. Texas had little national support — but imagine what might happen in future cycles if people invested in Texas like a battleground state.
4. Texas is 1 of only 4 states to see an increase in Democratic performance in 2016 compared to 2012.
Texas showed a gain of 1.8 points.
5. Bright spots in Texas show that the changes Battleground Texas and our allies are working to create across the state are working.
Battleground Texas also helped amazing candidates win in competitive races in Texas by focusing on registering voters in their district — including Victoria Neave’s race in House District 107. We registered 2,600 voters in Victoria’s district; she won by 836 votes, and Battleground Texas made a long-term investment in flipping the state. Similarly, Harris County — where we’ve been organizing for the past three years — went solid blue. In 2012, Obama won that county by about 1,000 votes. This year, Hillary took Harris County by nearly 160,000 votes.
There’s no question we have a lot more work to do — in Texas and around the country. But the numbers in Texas are moving in the right direction.