March 12, 2014

MICHAEL BARONE: Wendy Davis’ filibuster against late-term abortion ban repels Texas Hispanics.

Davis won the Democratic primary easily, by a 79 percent to 21 percent margin over Reynaldo “Ray” Madrigal, who spent little or no money and had no perceptible name identification. Yet Davis lost 26 of Texas’ 254 counties to Madrigal, mostly heavily Hispanic counties in the Rio Grande Valley. They included the largest county in the Lower Rio Grande, Hidalgo, as well as Webb County, centered on the biggest U.S.-Mexican border truck crossing, Laredo. Seventeen of these counties voted for President Obama in 2012; indeed they constituted 17 of the 26 Texas counties he carried. Also, zero Democratic votes were cast in 20 counties, and in two counties, Davis and Madrigal were tied.

These numbers point to the conclusion that Davis’ stand on the abortion issue, wildly popular among the Democrats’ feminist left, is significantly unpopular among many Texas Hispanic voters — most of them probably Catholic, but including a significant number of evangelical and pentecostal Protestants. National Democratic strategists may hope that Davis can build a Texas majority on a feminist-black-Hispanic base. But that Hispanic base looks shaky. What enthuses one part of a party’s constituency can antagonize another part. This is true of Republicans as well as Democrats. But when you start out in the minority, as Democrats do in Texas, splitting your party base is dangerous.

Shockingly, a rich white woman with an Ivy League law degree might not be the best person for minority outreach.

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