Gov. Greg Abbott is totally oblivious about a large portion of Texas  – according to this journalist
Texas Governor Greg Abbott holding a press conference in 2018. (Shutterstock.com)

Because Texas Republicans are so loud, forceful and strident — from Sen. Ted Cruz to Gov. Greg Abbott to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to Infowars’ Alex Jones — it’s easy to forget that Texas is by no means the reddest of the red states. Texas, at this point, is light red rather than deep red.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke narrowly lost to Cruz in Texas’ U.S. Senate race in 2018. President Joe Biden, in 2020, lost Texas to Donald Trump by about 6% compared to 43% in Wyoming, 30% in Idaho, 26% in Alabama, 49% in West Virginia or 16% in Mississippi. Moreover, major urban centers like Austin, Houston, Dallas and El Paso lean Democrat, and Democrats often perform well in some of Texas’ congressional districts.

In an op-ed/essay published by the New York Times on June 3, Mimi Swartz — who serves as executive editor of the Texas Monthly — argues that Texas isn’t as deep red as Abbott likes to pretend it is. And she slams him for being totally oblivious to Texans who aren’t extremists.

“For the millions of us in the state who are not hard-right Republicans or supporters of the governor,” Swartz writes, “the question we should ask ourselves is, why not? What they have been doing is making Texas appealing for corporations and for hard-right culture warriors.”

Swartz continues, “Mr. Abbott, the performative governor, really likes a publicity stunt: busing migrants to Washington, D.C. in an ultimately pointless — though, for many migrants, unintentionally welcome — effort to ‘take the border to President Biden,’ as the governor put it. Or sending the Texas National Guard to the border as part of another pointless — but very expensive — action, ostensibly to secure the southern border but more likely to hold off challenges from Mr. Abbott’s right.”

A poll released by the Texas Politics Project in early May, Swartz notes, found that more than 50% of respondents believe the state is on the wrong track.

“It doesn’t sound like a majority of Texans have enjoyed Republicans’ handling of abortion,” Swartz writes. “Already, we have one of the most restrictive laws in the country — and if Roe falls, we will have a trigger ban that eliminates access completely. When asked if they supported or opposed banning all abortions in the state if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, 54% of voters said no, with 42% strongly opposed.”

The Texas Politics Project found that Abbott had 47% approval among Texans in April — a number that increases to 80% among Texas Republicans. And Swartz slams Abbott for showing a total disregard for Texans who aren’t ‘hard-right’ GOP primary voters.

“Ultimately, a big reason for this hard-right governing is and has been the base of Republican primary voters,” Swartz explains. “In a state of almost 30 million, roughly 17 million are registered to vote, but only about 2 million voted in the past two Republican primaries — and those who do vote dependably are older, White and far to the right. In this year’s primary, a Republican candidate could have won the nomination with under 4% of voters. So, the typical calculus for Republican politicians is this: Keep the far-right voter base happy, and you are a guaranteed winner in Republican-dominated Texas.”