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Will Texas Republicans dislike Clinton as much as they dislike Obama?

Of course they will. I mean, come on.

Hillary Clinton

Texas Democrats will miss Obama. But so too will Texas Republicans.

Those three syllables — O-Bah-Mah — were all it took for Republicans to signal what they stood against.

“There was an element of vitriol against Barack Obama that just defies logic,” said Rodney Ellis, a Democrat who is poised to surrender his Houston state Senate seat after his expected election as Harris County commissioner in November.

“You hate to use the race card, but there was something different,” said Ellis, a Clinton delegate. “With an African-American, you hate to be the first, but there was a level of animosity by leaders in the Republican Party against Barack Obama and there was something about it that just went beyond politics.”

But last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland demonstrated that Hillary slips as easily off the tongue as Obama.

“I think it will be an easy transition,” said Republican political strategist Brendan Steinhauser, who managed U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s 2014 re-election campaign.

Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, said the most recent June poll suggests that Hillary Clinton will be just as unpopular with Texas Republicans as Obama.

I’m old enough to remember when Texas Republicans were openly rooting for Hillary Clinton to win the nomination in 2008 because of how much they wanted to run against her that year. They had no trouble adjusting to Obama as the nominee, and things haven’t changed much since then. See here and here for a bit of my thinking on this from that time. Reading stuff like this gives me whiplash and deja vu all at the same time.

One way to look at this question is to break it down into some smaller questions. To my mind, those questions are “Might Hillary Clinton do better among white voters?” and “Might Latino voters who had previously tended to vote Republican be sufficiently repulsed by Donald Trump to vote for Hillary Clinton, and perhaps also consider other Democrats downballot?” I suspect the answers to those questions are “Probably a little”, as there is national polling evidence to suggest that Trump is doing poorly among college-educated white voters and white women, though he’s doing better among non-college-educated whites, and “Probably for the first part, maybe but I’m dubious for the second part”. As always, more polling data would help us understand what if any effect there is.

Of greater interest to me is whether Hillary Clinton can do a better job turning out lower-propensity Democratic voters, especially in off years? I’m happy if she can flip some people from R to D, but that doesn’t mean much if it’s only for the Presidential race. I’d much rather she provide a boost to base Democratic turnout, which has been a big problem in recent elections. That remains to be seen. And if (fingers crossed) we get a boost in base turnout this November, we can finally begin to make progress on the problem of flat turnout in off-year elections. One step at a time, though. Either we get a step up this year, or we’re still stuck where we’ve been for too many cycles.

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