Texas Presidential Vote: Do Our Non-Trump Votes Matter?
July 18, 2016 4:24 PM   Subscribe

According to some, Texans who vote for a 3rd-party (aka "not Hillary") candidate are throwing away their vote, their one chance to move Texas toward purple in a presidential election. However...

... There are others who say that we could literally write in Mickey Mouse and it wouldn't matter, because any non-Republican vote for President is going to be meaningless.

So, which is it? Does the non-Republican presidential vote matter in Texas?
posted by batmonkey to Law & Government (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Texas is not realistically in play right now. If it becomes close, you will know that before November. You can't vote before the end of October in any case.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:35 PM on July 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Rest assured that I do realise we can't vote yet. I'm okay with this being somewhat theoretical. We are looking for some expansion on the two paths that are asserting themselves to get a better feel for the reality as we lend our support in these last few months of campaigning.
posted by batmonkey at 4:38 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

soon. probably not this cycle. but it is a long way to november, for everybody.
posted by lescour at 4:50 PM on July 18, 2016

You're overthinking it. If there aren't some polls in October that have Clinton within three points in Texas, knock yourself out and vote for whichever alternate commie you prefer. If you see those polls, that's time to suck it up, vote Clinton even if that's not really your thang, and urge your commie friends to do the same.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:53 PM on July 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

Voting a third party in the presidential race is, realistically, slightly more visible than a Mickey Mouse write-in. You're more likely to just get on TV screens with a number if you vote for one of the third-party candidates. It'll be so long before someone tallies the write-ins it won't even make the news.

But voting for Hillary is far more likely to send a message inside Texas to state race candidates and the next midterm candidates. President is only one small part of the picture, particularly in Texas. That's not meaningless at all. The parties are absolutely paying attention to that data.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:56 PM on July 18, 2016 [25 favorites]

If you are voting for a third party candidate, it absolutely makes a difference. If a party receives more than 5 percent of the popular vote, then they are eligible for public funding during the next election cycle.
posted by chevyvan at 4:57 PM on July 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: The "one chance to make Texas purple" is certainly no less symbolic a gesture than voting for a third party.
posted by threeants at 5:29 PM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

That is to say, based on all the electoral data we have access to, if Texas is actually in play, Clinton will have already swept the nationwide contest more than handily.
posted by threeants at 5:31 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Is there any way that voters can influence Texas being "in play"?

(best answers soon - don't want to shut down good input too quickly!)
posted by batmonkey at 6:01 PM on July 18, 2016

I would argue that voting for a third party candidate in Texas (or any State) is not a wasted vote. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate is polling in double digits. He has no realistic path to the White House, but a vote for him or any third party candidate both sends a message to the Dems and Repubs to stop acting crazy and start listening to the people whether they are on the right or left and, depending on how many votes a third party candidate gets, it may make it easier to get on the ballot in the future. I think it sends a message to both parties that the electorate is not happy with their partisan, bigoted ways. Both parties, regardless of their right or left views need to put the people first and put aside anything that has to do with hate, discrimination, etc. I happen to think that both parties are absolutely unwilling to work with their counterparts across the aisle because of hatred and trying too hard to protect their own interests. Vote for a third party whether that is Johnson or another candidate. Send a message that we are fed up with politics as usual. Race, gender, whatever, we all have equal rights and need to be treated equally and with respect.

I also argue that I will not vote for Trump or Clinton because I do not want any part of possibly electing either a bigoted moron or a lying self serving too smart for her own good career politician. Right now, both major parties think they have you and that you have to vote for the candidate of the party you most associate with. That needs to stop.

I do not think there is anyway short of a miracle or a very very very unlikely event such as finding out that Trump secretly has a biracial child that Texas is in play. But that doesn't mean your vote is wasted by voting for anyone else.

/end rant
posted by AugustWest at 6:08 PM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Is there any way that voters can influence Texas being "in play"?

Individually? No. Not at any meaningful scale. At least not unless you have really substantial resources at your disposal and/or are freakishly charismatic and skilled at organizing groups of other people. I mean, what you're asking is basically "Is there anything I can do to change the behavior of at least hundreds of thousands of other people?"

If you want to add the wee tiny increment that normal people can add to Texas's blue-ness, the answers are boring and unsatisfying: write a check to the state Democratic Party and let them worry about what exactly to do with it. Or, if you really want to do something, go get involved with local outposts of the state Democratic Party, but mostly this is likely to be just wading into other people's long-running personality conflicts mixed with bureaucracy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:13 PM on July 18, 2016

Remember Nader in 2000. Don't Brexit up your vote.
posted by LoveHam at 9:07 PM on July 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Anybody who tells you that you 'owe' your vote to anyone is full of it. Democracy does not function when everyone plays the loss aversion within the system game. Vote for something you believe in.
posted by so fucking future at 9:39 PM on July 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Is there any way that voters can influence Texas being "in play"?

Yes - vote for Democrats and/or non-loony Republicans in any local or state races. A strong argument could be made that the hard right-wing Republicans wouldn't be nearly as powerful as they are now if the Dems & moderate Republicans had made more of an effort to put & keep people in local and state governments.

It won't turn Texas blue or even purple for this election, so it won't be "in play" now, but politics is a long game in many ways - setting up the conditions as "Make Texas purple NOW or your vote is meaningless" is a simplistic false dichotomy.

And, to some (arguable) extent, if Texas has a stronger-than-expected Dem turn-out, it's likely the media & pundits will notice this & comment on it, which may turn into a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy, as Dem-leaners who didn't vote this time maybe realize that there are more Dems around than they thought, so next time they actually vote.

Your vote and your efforts to get get others to vote can speed up the process of putting Texas "in play" for the future.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:43 PM on July 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: (I was born and raised and live in Texas despite what my mefi location says.)

What you believe in is complicated and probably can't be condensed to a single party.

This is my 2016 voting strategy and current long term plan forward:

First, my historical perspective
Partisan politics has got this country jackknifed and that low down dirty game got started with George Bush beating out Ann Richards in what 1990 or something thereabouts. (Too lazy to google it).

So, do you wanna play partisan politics or do you wanna play politics that fixes the jackknife.

Because the way see it is:

Vote for third party candidates in local elections. Then advocate and work for those parties at a local level. Help build the state party infrastructure, help get candidates elected in other cities, shore up from the bottom up.

Vote at the state level for the third party candidates you believe in if they are running at that level. Otherwise, if there's no third party candidate at the state level then vote for the candidate who aligns most to your personal best interest. That might shift each election cycle.

At the federal level if your favorite third party doesn't have a mature game at the local and state level yet, and they are running one or two candidates at the federal level, then blow them off this election cycle. Building the local 50-state game is priority IMO. They are fundraising tokens and they are not gonna be anything but a vote for the candidate you hate the most. At the federal level the game is already set, vote for either the democrat or the republican that closest matches your self interests. My opinion is that we need the federal elections to be decisive, because while the electoral vote determines who is president, the popular vote determines the "heat" of the winning party's mandate. This manner allows for voting your conscience, actually participating in democracy, and sending the clearest, decisive message to the federal two party system in way that forever avoids hanging chads and a Supreme Court election decision ever again.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:22 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: People have understood that Texas is in the process of turning blue for some time now, and that massive gerrymandering by the Texas GOP is one of the main reasons it doesn't seem as far along in that process as it should. So, while voting for a non-Republican presidential candidate might seem like you're "throwing away your vote" because only the Republican presidential candidate has a realistic chance of winning the state in the upcoming election, it certainly can at least add your vote to the non-Republican tide that is rising in the state. I don't know where your political sympathies lie, but if they are in any way left of center I would suggest that you vote for Democratic candidates simply because this is the party that has an apparatus, etc. that could actually bring about meaningful change in your state's political landscape in the reasonably near-term.
posted by slkinsey at 5:35 AM on July 19, 2016

Best answer: FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 16% chance of winning Texas. It's closer than you think.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:30 AM on July 19, 2016

Best answer: 8 years ago, when my wife was very involved in OFA, there was a LOT of frustration from some in the Obama camp that the DNC and national org wasn't doing more to close the gap here in Texas, because many felt that the historical nature of his candidacy might be enough to put state in play -- or, if not that, then certainly enough to force the McCain campaign to commit more resources here, because (then as now) there really is no viable path to the White House for the GOP that doesn't include Texas.

The demographics still aren't kind to the GOP, but HRC is more of a business-as-usual candidate, and the 25 years the Right has spent shitting on the Clintons has created a self-sustaining narrative of her as somehow vaguely unacceptable/offensive to lots of people, so yeah, realistically it's probably closer than it would've been with these candidates a cycle or two or three ago, but Trump will carry the state short of a complete collapse.

All that said, though: I really, really, really don't think it's justifiable to vote for not-HRC at all, anywhere, this time around. The risks are too great. I agree that having more viable parties would be great, but you don't gin those up from scratch in presidential years. It takes long years of fundraising and making sure you've got folks to run for everything from dogcatcher to county clerk to state rep, in pretty much every state, before having a national candidate becomes something other than a vanity project or protest vote. And we're not there yet AT ALL.
posted by uberchet at 6:37 AM on July 19, 2016 [6 favorites]

I am a Texas voter. I know a very nice Green Party candidate. I have his bumper sticker on my car during voting season. However, I do not vote for him.

My goal is to encourage change in the currently insurmountable Republican stranglehold on my state. I know it will take time, but if it seems hopeless it will take even more time. I vote in the Republican primary so that I can promote the less extreme candidates. I vote in the run-offs because my vote means even more then. In the general election I vote for mostly Democratic candidates, after a careful review of the ticket. No need to elect an obvious extremist. As it usually works out, few of the people I vote for in the primary or the general election get into office. I do get the chance to vote against the same guy two or even three times during the election cycle.

I may only be making a tiny difference, but I feel that voting for a third party will make my effort even less relevant.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 8:05 AM on July 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: As of now, it matters, according to an increasing number of polls.

"Remember - Texas is not a red state as much as it is a non-voting state. Let's do something about it.
Trump 41%
Clinton 38%
Johnson 4%
Stein 1%" ~ Progress Texas Facebook post

It's going to be an interesting next several weeks, it seems.
posted by batmonkey at 11:29 PM on October 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

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