Since the 1980's, Texas has been the heart of the red states of America, sending its sizable allotment of electoral votes to the Republican candidate year after year. But a top Republican thinks Hillary Clinton could push the state into purple territory.
“If she’s the nominee, I would say that this is a ‘lean Republican’ state but not a ‘solid Republican’ state," Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri tells Real Clear Politics. "I don’t know anyone nationally who’s scoffing at this. The national party leadership is aware and tells me they’re taking it seriously.”
Texas has gone Republican by 10 points or more in recent elections. But a survey released last month shows that Hillary would beat all of the Republicans current being floated. She tops Texas's own Governor, Rick Perry, by three points; New Jersey heavyweight Chris Christie by two points; and the "Republican Savior" Marco Rubio as well.
The big factor will be the demographic shifts in the state. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell points to Latino, African-American, and working class white female voters as the groups Clinton would do well with that are crucial in Texas. "She could put together a coalition that could seriously threaten to take Texas," he said on Friday's PoliticsNation. That same coalition would give her a strong shot of winning other typically red states like Louisiana, Indiana, and Montana.
For Texas, Rendell thinks that it's only a matter of time, regardless of who the candidate is. "Every four-year increment, it becomes more and more likely that it's going to go blue."
The Latino voting demographic is key. Nearly four in ten Texans identified as Hispanic in the last Census, and as Maria Teresa Kumar points out, that's a big strength for Clinton. "Hillary has an incredible brand recognition among the Latino community, and more importantly among Latinas who actually are the ones who lead the demographic in the polls," she said.
The key to harnessing that power may be voter registration: there are more than 2 million eligible unregistered Latino voters in Texas. That would double the Latino voting power in the state, and that's not the only factor in Hillary's favor. "You pair that with a lot of single women in Texas and you have an incredible coalition the likes of which you haven't seen in Texas in a long time."
Of course, it's still all speculation, and both Reverend Al Sharpton and Rendell agreed that there's still a very good chance Hillary Clinton may decide not to run. But if she does: Houston, you have a problem.