The big news for November was our crushing defeat of the Democratic ticket. To paraphrase the popular song “All I Do is Win”, ALL THE TEXAS GOP DOES IS WIN, WIN, WIN!
All the reasons that the Republican ticket totally crushed the Democratic ticket would take several pages to write. The Democrats, and particularly Battleground Texas, made many obvious errors and miscalculations this year, while the RPT, Governor-elect Abbott, and the rest of the statewide ticket’s battle plan worked to near perfection.
I can sum up what we did by saying, all we did was vote, vote, vote.
Our strategy, developed in partnership with the Abbott campaign and our other statewide candidates, and executed by our Victory team headed up by Chairman Christi Craddick, spent a year and a half focusing on surveying door to door swing voters. Anyone who we determined was a solid Democrat we then left alone from further contact. Voters who we determined were likely to vote for the Republican ticket we made note of in our databases and then followed up with them later to ensure they got out to vote.
Our persuasion efforts were solely focused on the undecided voters. Utilizing Victory centers, which began opening in June 2013, RPT Victory staff worked tirelessly with Abbott’s campaign and other statewide campaigns on engagement efforts in the Hispanic-American, Asian-American, and African-American communities to identify households that we believed we could persuade to vote Republican. These centers also systematically canvased the entire state and began accumulating the names of millions of voters who we felt we could turn out to vote for the Republican ticket.
Starting the weekend of early voting in late October, our door to door and telephone GOTV efforts were put into full swing. During the last several weeks of the campaign, over a million calls a week were being made to these identified voters by either RPT Victory volunteers, or RPT and Abbott staff. These were not robo calls or paid phone banks. The Republican ticket was able to attract thousands of dedicated volunteers who made these calls. So while the other side bragged about the hundreds of paid workers they had out in the field and told the press their professional operation would trump our volunteer organization, the opposite turned out to be true.
Our GOTV efforts worked exceptionally well and our computer analysis told us that by the time early voting ended, we had turned out about a third of our hardcore base while the Democrats had turned out roughly a quarter of theirs. This effect was amplified by the fact that our base was bigger to start with. In summary, we won from a tactical point of view because we had a more effective ground game than the Democrats and were able to identify and turn out more supporters than they were.
In addition to our superior tactical strategy, we also had a ticket which espoused a superior message. The Dems were so focused on group demographics that they failed to pay significant attention to the ideological makeup of the state. Several polls of the ideological views of Texas voters revealed that conservatives make up roughly half of the electorate with only around 1 in 5 voters self-identifying as liberal, and the rest considered themselves moderate. The Dems nominated a gubernatorial candidate who was rated the 4th most liberal State Senator out of 31 in a survey done by Rice University that was nonpartisan and objective. Bottom line, their candidates were perceived as liberal in a state which is 80% center-right. The end result was a crushing defeat, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a couple of decades. Wendy Davis failed to achieve even 39% of the vote. In political terms this translates into a complete blowout.
There were several other important factors which I believe are important for every Republican to know so that we can repeat this success in the future. First, despite some very heated and highly contested primaries, the party came together and worked in a unified fashion for all of our candidates. Second, we took the Democrats very seriously. We assumed that the Dems sending in Obama operatives and spending $40 million dollars or more on their gubernatorial candidate and turnout efforts was a threat we should take seriously. Party activists took the Democrat’s bold predictions of turning Texas blue as a challenge that motivated them to re-engage and work harder than ever. Complacency is the only thing that can defeat us in the future. Third, there was a great spirit of cooperation and mutual support among our statewide candidates. Governor-elect Abbott, instead of hoarding all of his resources for his campaign, actively raised money for the RPT Victory operation and GOTV efforts from the day he announced his candidacy for Governor.
Finally, it is important for Republican contributors and activists to know that the RNC, and specifically Chairman Reince Priebus, also took the threat to turn Texas blue seriously, and for the first time in many years offered consistent, significant financial support to bolster our Victory and engagement efforts. Chairman Priebus shared my vision of a Republican Party that reaches out to every community and a party whose makeup is as diverse as our population. He made an early commitment to support our efforts financially to engage with the Hispanic-American, Asian-American, and African-American communities, as well as a youth engagement program. The end result was that Senator John Cornynwon the Hispanic vote. We also believe George P. Bush won the Hispanic vote, and all other statewide candidates split it evenly. Exit polls indicate we won the Asian-American vote and doubled our support in the African-American community. What may be an even bigger surprise is that we split the 18-29 year old vote right down the middle at 49-49.
All this hard work culminated in a huge victory party on November 4 at the Austin City Limits venue in Austin and to the blaring music of ‘All I Do is Win’. Hundreds of supporters came out to celebrate this great win. Please see election night recap here.
Even though we were celebrating late into the night, the next day it was back to work as we looked forward to 2016. I myself appeared on several media outlets the next day to offer election night analysis and was then on a panel at the Annette Strauss Institute at the University of Texas, at which my Democrat Party counterpart, Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, debated the meaning of the election with me. Cari Christman from Red State Women was also on the panel. It was interesting to me that Hinojosa thinks their ticket was not liberal enough and did not appeal to their hardcore base. I hope they follow this advice in the future to ensure more wins for us.
The following week I spoke to the Greater Houston Pachyderm Club as well as the Northwest Houston Pachyderm Club. That week I also appeared on the television show ‘Red, White, and Blue’ on PBS debating Will Hailer, Executive Director of the Texas Democrat Party. Former Harris County ChairmanGary Polland was one of the two hosts. Then it was off to Weatherford to speak to the local Parker County Republican Women before ending the week with a meeting of the Officials Committee. The purpose of the meeting was to work on the 2015 budget as well as to approve my plans to continue Victory operations year round.
The following week I traveled to Granbury to speak to theHood County Republican Women. The next week we continued working on our plans for 2016 and preparing for another Officials Committee meeting the last week of November to further discuss our plans. At that meeting, with the permission of the Committee, I invited all three candidates that have announced their campaigns for State Chair to attend in order for them to have a chance to provide their input into the budget for 2015. I did so because I believe it is important that we have as seamless of a transition as possible to the new Chairman once I resign. In order to accomplish this, I offered all three candidates the opportunity to come to Austin on a mutually agreed date to meet the staff and discuss our current Victory and budget plans for 2015. I have also extended an open invitation for them to call me any time if they wish to get briefed on the status of the party or answer any questions about how the party is currently functioning. I advised both them and the SREC that I plan to serve at least until February 2015 but will resign no later than July 1, 2015. I also advised that I will do my best to attempt to provide them with at least 30 days’ notice prior to resigning in order to ensure there is not a time when the chairmanship is vacant, which would require the Vice Chair to step in on a temporary basis. I am proposing a bylaw amendment to be considered at the next meeting of the SREC which would allow a new State Chairman to take over the day that a current chair resigns, as long as the current chair has provided at least 30 days’ notice and when the vote would take place.
I would also like to take a moment to thank all of the RPT staff that decided to give up a month of their time immediately following the election to join the nationwide task force that deployed to Louisiana to help out with the U.S. Senate runoff election there between Democrat incumbent Mary Landrieu and Republican Representative Bill Cassidy. Their hard work seems to be paying off as early polls are showing great numbers for Representative Cassidy and puts us on track to win yet another Senate seat in this landslide election year. While they were working in Louisiana, a surprise visitor came by to say hello.Governor Rick Perry, who was there campaigning for Cassidy, took the time to stop by and talk to the RPT staff on the campaign trail.
We ended the election season in excellent shape on multiple fronts. During the last two cycles, we set a record each time for the total number of Republican elected officials around state. Preliminary numbers indicate that we broke the record yet again and we should have a final number shortly after we finish canvasing all 254 counties. In the Texas House, we elected 98 Republicans, this is an increase of three over last cycle and is just one short of the record of 99 Republican State Representatives elected on election day. However, the previous record of 99 was set prior to redistricting when we lost a few seats.
In the Texas Senate we elected 20 State Senators which ties the all time record. It was particularly sweet to pick up Wendy Davis’s old seat. We also tied the record we set in 2010 by electing 25 Republicans to the U.S. Congress. Will Hurd became the first African-American Republican to be elected to Congress in Texas history. He is a bright new star in the Republican Party being young, articulate, intelligent, and personable. I felt so strongly about his election that I spent the weekend during GOTV at his headquarters in San Antonio rallying the troops and helping drive the early vote.
In addition to significantly increasing our vote in traditional minority communities, we also increased the number of Republicans of Hispanic descent to the State House. Representatives-elect Gilbert Pena andRick Galindo won races against incumbent Democrats of Hispanic descent in districts that have a significant number of Hispanic voters. Moreover, incumbent State Representative JM Lozano won re-election again in a majority Democrat, majority Hispanic district. These results further demonstrate the significant progress we have made in minority communities around the state as a result of our comprehensive engagement program.
We also ended the election season in great shape financially. As we close out November, it will mark the 4th Anniversary of my announcing that we had paid off all party liabilities to $0 for the first time in decades while maintaining a healthy cash balance. I am pleased to report that as of the end of November, we still have over $1 million cash on hand after paying all obligations to $0 despite the fact that preliminary estimates are showing that we spent close to two and a half million on our Victory and engagement efforts. Click here for my message on the 4th Anniversary. I do expect this balance to decline in December because typically donations fall off substantially during the holiday season. Nevertheless, I expect we will end of the year with no debt and a cash balance at or better than what we had after the last election cycle.
As we look forward to the future, it is critical that we continue to make engagement a high priority and work on our Victory efforts year round. It I has never made sense to me that we open up Victory centers a couple of months before the election, hire temporary staff, and close them before the end of the year. Consequently, I have proposed a 2015 budget to the SREC that will include ongoing Victory efforts around the state so that our work of identifying Republicans, maintaining our databases, and retaining our excellent staff continues.
This was the third election cycle during which I have been State Chairman. Together, we have achieved excellent results in each of these cycles, and despite our past successes, this year was by far the most satisfying and decisive.
When I came into office, our statewide ticket had only averaged 52.94% in the prior election. In this election, our statewide ticket averaged 59.39%.
When I came into office, the State House was split 76-74 and today we hold a 98-52 advantage.
When I came into office, Republicans held approximately 43% of the approximately 5,200 offices around the state, and today we hold approximately 62%.
In short, the 2014 results were spectacular and the culmination of years of hard work. However, it is important to note that we cannot take this for granted if we wish for the party to continue to maintain its majority. It is time to get back to work in order to ensure that Hillary Clinton does not take this state in 2016. If the thought of a President Clinton is not enough motivation for you, I don’t know what is. I would like to thank all of you that worked, donated, or supported the GOP in any way this year. United in purpose, motivated by principle, and dedicated to working hard, we cannot fail.
Stephen Munisteri, Chairman