The current abortion battle in Texas has galvanized many Democrats in the Lone Star State and around the country. But those hoping it will help turn the tide of Texas politics toward the Democrat side are probably engaging in wishful thinking. "The problem with the abortion issue is that Latinos, as a group of voters, tend to oppose abortion more than other ethnic or minority groups," says Laura McGann, deputy managing editor for POLITICO. She's referring to statistics in a new POLITICO story that show a majority of Hispanic Catholics believe abortion should be illegal. That doesn't bode well for the "Turn Texas Blue" strategy that's based around cultivating the state's growing Hispanic population.
McGann tells KTRH that abortion is not an issue that will unite traditional Democrat voting blocs. "While liberals across the country are rallying to the cause, (abortion) is not necessarily the perfect place to start when you're trying to turn a state like Texas blue," she says. The woman at the center of the abortion issue, State Senator Wendy Davis, has gained rock-star status to liberals around the country since her marathon filibuster derailed the GOP abortion restrictions bill two weeks ago. But McGann doubts Davis is the Dems’ key back to the Governor's mansion. "Wendy Davis has become this very popular figure nationally among Democrats, but in the state of Texas she probably doesn't appeal to a majority of voters," says McGann.
While Texas' demographics are undeniably changing in a way that typically favors Democrats, most political observers expect it will be many years before the state sees any significant shift in party control. Democrats haven’t won a statewide race in Texas since 1994, and haven’t carried the state in a Presidential election since 1976. The current abortion debate in Austin has fired up Democrat base voters, but the party has a lot more work to do to reach more moderate and swing voters across the state. "I think the bottom line is if Democrats want to turn Texas blue, then they're going to need more than the issue of abortion," says McGann.