Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why Obama Will Carry Texas (and with it the Democratic Nomination)

I was in attendance at last night's Obama Rally at Houston's Toyota Center, home the Houston Rockets, who tallied their 9th straight win last night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

T-Mac, Yao and the gang were upstaged last night on their home floor by the Next President of the United States, en route to his own 10-state winning streak.

That's when it dawned on me: Obama will win Texas.

It's not just about "convoluted" delegate selection rules and the segmentation of the primary voting population. It's about excitement. A level of excitement about a candidate running for President that, I have to say, I have not experienced in my lifetime.

It's about people being ready for a change. The only line I wrote down from last night's speech sums up why Democrats will carry the day: "The last thing we need is the same ol' folks doing the same ol' thing and making the same ol' mistakes."

Obama emerged before a crowd of 20,000 cheering admirers just after being declared the winner of the Wisconsin Primary. How ever you want to slice up the pie, he carried it, save older women. Most of all, he is generating a wave of participation among young or inexperienced voters, as well as disaffected Republicans and independents that will propel him all the way.

Seeing how the crowd reacted to his words last night, I was reminded of a feeling I last had when Bill Clinton gave his acceptance speech at the 1992 Democratic Convention. I knew that they were going to win.

Obama will carry Texas because Latinos are giving him a look.

Most observers think of the Rio Grande Valley when they think of the Hispanic voting population in Texas, but that's an antiquated view. There are more Hispanics in the Dallas or Houston areas than there are in the Valley, they just tend to be younger and less likely to vote on average than those along the border.

But this is not your average election. Expect Obama to carry young Hispanic voters, and a higher percentage of Hispanics in the urban areas than in the Valley or Laredo. Expect him to carry White voters.

Expect him to win African-American voters overwhelmingly, who are likely to turn out not just in large numbers in urban areas, but also suburban and more rural East Texas. Expect him to attract large numbers of independent voters to the Democratic Primary. Like in other states, expect Red State Texas to have twice, or four times, as many Democratic Primary voters than Republicans.

On the first day of early voting yesterday in Texas' largest county of Harris (which includes Houston), three times as many people voted in the Democratic Primary as the Republican Primary. And 11 times more people voted yesterday as compared to the first day of early voting in the 2004 Democratic Primary.

Expect Obama's momentum to carry him into the winner's circle in Texas.

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