Donald Trump once again dragged out his old songbook for an address to a Republican get-together at the North Carolina Republican Convention in Greenville, N.C. over the weekend. One of the fictitious claims he again repeated may very well prove to be the complete undoing of the Republicans in their efforts to reclaim the White House in 2024.
That claim centers around his insistence that he won Texas, easily and comfortably. Nothing could be further from the truth. If he’d been driving his pickup through a narrow alleyway called Texas, both sides would have needed a new paint job after polls closed.
He barely scraped Texas, posting one of the worst Presidential outcomes in decades, a 5.6-point win, the third-worst GOP showing in Texas since Ford lost the White House to Carter.
Only two GOP nominees have won Texas by a smaller margin since 1976, when President Gerald Ford lost the state and the White House to Democrat Jimmy Carter, 51–48.
With almost insurmountable odds in states like California and New York, all paths to the White House in 2024, if you're a Republican, really do run through Texas. The problem is Texas has become anything but a sure thing for Republicans and they have no one else to blame but themselves.
Individuals like Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott epitomize the problem Republicans face. It is a self-created political precipice they continue to lubricate with poor policy decisions catering to extreme elements within the GOP. More worryingly for Republican policymakers is that there doesn't appear to be a way out of this self-created pool of political quicksand.
Texas has not been a battleground considered winnable by Democrats in decades. That was until Trump’s anemic showing in 2016. Suddenly all bets were off and Biden even showed a brief lead in early polls, before he turned his attentions away from Texas.
How to bury yourself
The Republican’s impending meltdown in Texas is an object lesson in self-destruction, flawlessly executed by political agents pandering to radical populist elements within the GOP. Let's list the most recent egregious policies Governor Greg Abbott has either signed into law or is actively pursuing.
- The Texas Abortion Bill (SB8) known as the Heartbeat Bill; An egregious affront to women's rights is possibly the only way to describe this bill. By signing it, Abbott has mobilized almost every woman of voting age to come out in support of whoever opposes him.
- The Permitless Carry Bill HB1927: Relaxation of gun laws with the passing of HB 1927 has alienated almost every single sensible Texan who isn't obsessed with owning, illegally or otherwise, one of the 372 million firearms licensed in the US. Many Texans equate current legislation with a descent into a lawless future and yet more gun crime.
- Election Reform Bill (SB7): On the issue of restricting the voting process in Texas, exactly the same principle applies. Democrats won't even need to campaign for 2024. I foresee record turnouts from exactly the segments of the Texan population Abbott and his cohorts are seeking to disenfranchise. And they won’t be voting for the GOP.
These are just three of many issues the Republicans face in Texas. It's worth noting that elections are not carried by fringe elements or radical members of a political party. It's the middle of the road, moderate, working-class American with a family to support and everyday issues to contend with that carry an election candidate to victory.
Many of these moderate Republicans will be watching Abbott closely over the next few months. Large numbers are already quietly considering their options, including defection to other more centrist, middle-of-the-road candidates and the Democrats have smelt blood.
During the 2018 midterms, Beto O’Rourke held Sen. Ted Cruz below 51%, the worst showing for any statewide Republican nominee since 1994. Come 2024 the Democrats will be circling for the kill and their bite may prove fatal to the GOP’s future in Texas. Look to the midterms for an indicator of 2024.
The White House may seem a million miles away for the GOP come election day.