Tuesday, July 16, 2019

#TXLEGE: Why Bonnen's Political Gambit is Irrelevant

"Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter,"
Ezekiel 16:20

We said our piece yesterday about the big 3's latest fundraising.  Pretty self-explanatory.  That being said, it's worth exploring why Dennis Bonnen's latest effort won't make a difference to which party controls the Texas house next session.

To refresh, from yesterday:
Republican Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen has launched a political action committee to help defend the GOP majority as Democrats push to take the lower chamber in 2020.

Bonnen, an Angleton Republican, has started the group, Texas Leads, with $3 million from his campaign account, his team announced Monday. The political action committee will focus exclusively on reelecting GOP members to the House — a move consistent with Bonnen's insistence that incumbents do not campaign against one another.
Obviously, Bonnen is refusing to play offense.  As we explained yesterday, that's the #1 reason why this isn't a serious effort.  You can't win a war playing defense 100% of the time.

[Note: Good defense helps, but the Texas GOP is hardly the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and Dennis Bonnen is certainly no Trent Dilfer].

Beyond that, however, control of the Texas house will hinge on two factors:
  • The National Environment -- Like it or not, 85% of next year's outcome will depend on what voters think about Donald Trump compared with what voters think about whomever the Democrats nominate.

    That's it.

    If the national environment stays where it is right now, the GOP will be fine statewide (although Pete Flores is toast).

    If the national environment moves a few points in Trump's favor (aka. voters decide they hate the Democrat more), the GOP will gain back a good chunk of the ground they lost in 2018.

    If the national environment moves a few points in the Democrats favor (aka. voters decide they hate Trump more), the bottom will drop out for the GOP.

    You tell us the national environment on Wednesday of the second week of early voting, and we'll tell you the outcome of the election.

    [Note: The GOP could have used this past legislative session to develop its own identity separate from Trump...but that ship has sailed.]
  • How hard individual candidates work -- Assuming, for the sake of discussion, that national factors create a down-ballot environment where effort matters, responsibility for that effort will fall on individual candidates.

    Partisanship is the #1 factor in determining election outcomes, personal contact is #2.

    Some campaigns do it, other campaigns don't.
Against those two factors, the speaker's team sponsoring another mailer or another robocall makes no difference.

Bottom Line: 24 hours ago, a wide range of outcomes was possible in legislative races.  Today, a wide range of outcomes remain possible in legislative races.  Which of those outcomes ultimately materializes will depend almost entirely on factors outside of our control.  Dennis Bonnen's announcement changes none of that.

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