During a speech in San Antonio, President Obama said something that will give Republicans nightmares. Obama told the crowd that someday Texas will be a battleground state.
Here is the video:
Obama was talking about the flood of campaign ads drowning voters in swing states, when he said, “Let me just say this, in the next four months, you know, you guys won’t see them because you’re not considered one of the battleground states, although that’s going to be changing soon.”
President Obama wasn’t just dishing out red meat to the audience. Texas is the most reliable and largest Red State in the Republican column, but a rising Hispanic population along with the Republican Party’s alienation of Latino voters on the immigration issue is opening the door for Democrats in the state.
Consider that back in 2000, home state governor George W. Bush beat Al Gore 59%-38% in the state. In 2004 Bush beat Kerry, 61%-38%, but in 2008 Obama gained 44% of the Texas vote, and the Republican margin of victory shrunk from 23 points to 11.
In 2007, Senate Republicans killed George W. Bush’s bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill. This was a watershed moment as the far right’s hardline anti-immigrant stance effectively became the Republican Party’s official position on the issue. Since this time, Republicans have gone out of their way to criminalize the Latino population.
In 2004, Latino friendly Bush got half of the Texas Latino vote. By 2008, that number had dropped to 35%. The deficit is still too big for Obama to overcome in 2012, but the president does have a 65% approval rating with Latino voters nationally, and he currently leads Romney 66%-26% with these voters.
Could Obama close to within single digits of Romney in Texas? It’s possible, but the problem for Republicans is demographics. Texas is currently 37% Latino, but in less than 20 years a majority of the state’s population will be Latino.
Texas is changing and if Republicans keep alienating Latino voters with discriminatory policy proposals and Latino bashing, the Lone Star State will someday switch from red to blue.