The latest national headlines coming out of the Texas gubernatorial campaign aren't about its winner. All eyes were on the Democratic underdog, who rose to national prominence in 2013 with her filibuster of an omnibus abortion bill. But for all of the talk about what sunk Wendy Davis' once-promising campaign, it wasn't (totally) the fault of her disastrous campaign ads that did it.
At no point since she announced her candidacy in October 2013 did Davis lead Abbott in the polls, and heading into election day, Davis was trailing by 15 points. Although the rising-star Democrat was certainly great at drumming up grassroots and national support, Texas politicos never had any true hope that Davis would woo enough voters in the largely conservative state to take the governor's mansion.
Davis' campaign had many factors that led to its demise, not least of which is the state in which she was running for governor. Texas relies on its vast rural and suburban populations to keep it firmly in the red. Its Suburban population makes up the fastest-growing parts of Texas, and even though Texas' six major counties lean hard for Democrats, they don't lean as hard left as the 'burbs lean right.
Despite the tireless support of Battleground Texas, a progressive campaign group that touts Democratic candidates, Davis had some serious flaws with her media strategy from the get-go. Yes, we all know about the horrible campaign ads: one that used the story of a rape victim without her permission, and another that, from outward appearances, seemed to be mocking her opponent's handicap.
But long before those last-ditch efforts that weren't as extreme as the national media blew them up to be, Davis had problems with her image. Her press relations struggled to field questions about her background. She was late to press events. Her young, relatively inexperienced team lacked any knowledge of, you know, selling a candidate to the press.
Davis was a green of a candidate on the big stage. Democrats jumped at the opportunity to tout a viable candidate for the governorship, but her star power fizzled out quickly. Davis had a proven background in education issues, but the swing voters were looking for something more — immigration, jobs, healthcare. The only diversity that Davis' campaign had in its issues is that Greg Abbott was wrong, and she was right.
Would many people in Texas have liked to see a strong, Democratic woman as the governor? Yes, of course. Did anyone who really knew about Texas politics think that was ever a possibility? Absolutely not.
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