Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) has been talking to a lot of Texans over the last week, and on Thursday he shared with supporters the lessons Democrats have learned in the wake of Election Day.
Prior to Nov. 3, O'Rourke was optimistic about Texas flipping blue, and urged President-elect Joe Biden's campaign to spend money on ads. President Trump ended up capturing 52.1 percent of the vote in Texas, and received more support from Hispanic voters in the southern part of the state this year than he did in 2016.
In an email, O'Rourke wrote that Trump and Republicans had an "asymmetrical advantage" this cycle that was "far more powerful than many of us understood." They ran campaigns that were "free of the truth," using social media and text messaging to spread falsehoods and scare tactics. They also ignored pandemic safety precautions, knocking on doors and holding in-person events, he said, and when they shared their economic message, it was "not an honest one or better in terms of policy, but simpler, more emotional, and more compelling."
Because Republicans also hold every statewide office in Texas, they were able to "maximize voter suppression and raise and deploy massive campaign donations across the state," O'Rourke said. The Biden campaign did not "make a meaningful investment in Texas," he added, and it "hurt us badly" that the stretch from the "Rio Grande Valley to El Paso has been ignored by the national party, and even many statewide Democratic candidates."
Going forward, Democrats must canvass year-round "so that voters don't just hear from us during an election," O'Rourke said, and he emphasized the importance of meeting voters face-to-face, saying there "is a safe way to do this, even in a pandemic." Democrats also have to be "far more effective on digital and social media," O'Rourke advised, explaining that in the border communities especially, Trump and the GOP had a "ferocious game — lies and powerful memes, effective targeting of new and young voters — and we had none."
It's imperative that Democrats don't take voters for granted, O'Rourke added, and he stressed that while it won't be easy to flip Texas blue, "it's doable if we decide that we're willing to put in the work, if we're willing to believe in ourselves and act our faith."