In Texas, white voters have blended the anti-government ethos of the West and the deep South. Many Texas white voters began changing their party allegiance from Democrat to Republican after 1980 without changing their ideology. But Texans’ bedrock conservatism among whites has been mitigated by in-migration from less Republican states and by the development of what Ruy Teixeira and I called “ideopolises”—large metro areas dominated by professionals who produce ideas. By garnering support in the Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and El Paso metro areas, the Democrats might be able to get the 30 percent or more of the vote they need in presidential elections, and eventually the 35 percent they need in state elections.
In these metro areas, Texas Democrats can attract the same white voters who boosted Democrat hopes in states like Virginia and North Carolina: younger voters, who came of age after the Reagan-Bush era, professionals, and women. Davis’s candidacy has probably helped among these voters. In a late September poll that showed Davis behind Abbott by fourteen points, she still had an edge among women and voters 18 to 44, while getting trounced among male and older voters. (In the same poll, Davis only get 50 percent of Hispanic vote.) Mustafa Tameez, a Houston Democratic consultant, says that the Texas state legislature’s lurch to the right, which spawned Davis’s candidacy, will win over many of these voters. “The urban vote and women are the key to Democrats winning Texas,” Tameez says.
Texas Democrats’ ability to win over white voters will also depend on what happens to the national party. Obama remains deeply unpopular in Texas—identified with whatever failures white Texans ascribe to the federal government. There were no exit polls in the 2012 election, but Nate Cohn has estimated that Obama only got 20 percent of the white vote. Whites need to feel comfortable voting for a candidate identified with the national party. Tameez and other Democrats believe that Hillary Clinton, who defeated Obama in the 2008 Texas primary, will fare far better among the state’s Anglos than Obama did. But even if they nominate a candidate more palatable to urban whites, the Democrats may have to wait until 2020 to have a good shot at winning Texas in a presidential vote.
So yes, Hillary may have a chance in Texas if she can get 30% of the white vote and 70% of the Latino vote, if Latino turnout is 50%. If those numbers go up, it becomes a lot easier. It is possible for Democrats to turn Texas blue, but in the short term that means getting the white vote in the state, something Obama could never do.
So yes, Democrats are going to go after more white voters than Latino ones, simply because white voters actually vote.
There's a lesson here.