Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wendy Davis is More Excitement than Substance

Since announcing her candidacy for governor, however, Wendy Davis has seemingly made little headway against Abbott. Fresh evidence of the mountain she must climb came with the release of the latest fundraising reports. She continues to raise substantial amounts of money, but with a little more than 100 days to go before Election Day, her campaign says it has about $12 million to $13 million in the bank. Abbott’s campaign has about $36 million.

Davis has generated considerable enthusiasm, attracting donations from about 140,000 contributors, according to her campaign. Her advisers say the excitement around her campaign is real — in Texas and nationally — but there are concerns that the roughly three-to-one gap in cash on hand and her own performance as a candidate could discourage some of her biggest donors from stepping up with more in the final months.

Davis is not blameless about the situation in which she finds herself. She has not delivered a clear or consistent message. As many or more people have an unfavorable view of her as have a favorable view, and that’s without Abbott running any negative ads against her.
Jeremy Bird, who set up Battleground Texas, said there is a path to victory for Davis: turning out registered minority voters who often stay home; registering unregistered minority voters; and attracting the support of suburban white women. She will do better among African Americans and Hispanics than the polls now show, he said.

Her advisers see opportunities. Abbott, they argue, is more conservative and less skilled as a politician than the man he seeks to replace, Gov. Rick Perry, and has been thrown on the defensive repeatedly during the campaign. The Republican Party of Texas continues to shift to the right, potentially alienating some more moderate voters. By October, they argue, the race will look different.
Republicans say conservative Texas will never warm to Davis’s brand of politics. Dave Carney, top strategist for the Abbott campaign, described the Davis operation as having become a campaign of news releases, sophomoric tactics and some fuzzy math. But he also said of the race, “There’s not a single person . . . taking this for granted.”