Harris County is a light blue county. In order to win countywide races HCRP and/or candidates needs to make a sustained effort to engage persuadable voters. One easy way to interact with voters is to go to events. The Southwest Management District and Sharpstown Civic Association put on a “Liberty Fest” every year. This was a great way to engage with voters who are persuadable, and just as important it serves as an opportunity to not let the Democrats set the narrative for the election. As far as I can tell, only Commissioner Cagle, Kyle Scott, and John Branch were present at the event. This is opposed to about a dozen democrat candidates and the Southwest Democrats, who show and have a booth every year.
Controlling the Narrative
Sharpstown is an area where crime is an issue, and that’s one narrative that Republicans can use to persuade voters to vote red, at least on local races. The main message that played as a time filler while I was at the event was crime is on the way down. This message was paired with statistics to give a veneer of truth to the message. Although Republican literature talks about crime, we need to actively engage with voters t show how crime is still a significant problem even if the overall rate is coming down.
Use pictures like the above to show how crime is still an everyday issue, and engage the voters so they don’t fall for the counter narrative the democrats are pushing – crime is decreasing. That’s probably the best line they can push on crime, and for people who are already predisposed to vote for them it is a message that will take root. Our candidates need to be out in the streets at events engaging with the voters to push our message and counter the lines the democrats are pushing.
Time is Short, and Crime isn’t Enough
We only have 120ish days until Election Day. The clock is ticking, and we need to go out and make the personal connections now. Yes, the weather is miserably hot. It’s hard to find block walkers, and people are reluctant to answer doors even if you can get block walkers out. We still have to try. Outside of the criminal court races it’s difficult to see how crime picks up enough split ticket voters to make a difference.
We need to learn the lessons from last cycle. Mary Nan Huffman and Joe Danna were both kind enough to let me interview them on their races last cycle. The biggest difference between the two was Many Nan was engaged in more one on one voter interaction while Joe was more focused on mass messaging activities. The results showed a difference. While both were unsuccessful, Many Nan lost by 7.5% while Joe lost by 15%. With a one on one interaction model and targeting areas where voters are persuadable might be enough to obtain enough split ticket ballots on criminal courts. It’s more up in the air will the prevailing sentiment on crime be enough to switch enough voters on a mass messaging model.
But what about races other than the criminal courts? What is the message we have that will persuade voters who don’t see how crime is involved with those offices? We have a significant opportunity in the wake of Dobbs to show we are fundamentally different from the democrats. While the democrats are doubling down on abortion and promoting more of the same/trying to circumvent the law, Republicans have an opportunity to show we are problem solvers. Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey have the largest bully pulpit from which to promote solutions. The candidates need to either coordinate with the Commissioners and get a unified message, or start crafting their own solutions and get out and spread the word. Time is short, and crime is not enough.
We Still Have an Opportunity
Although time is short, we still have an opportunity to make course corrections. Labor Day will have many similar events to the one that just occurred in Sharpstown. Hopefully the candidates are going to cooperate and have some meet and greets in neighborhoods where persuadable voters are located. It’s going to take following the lead of Kyle though. He is out everywhere, and doesn’t abandon any part of the county. We will not have a cycle this favorable again in the foreseeable future. Next cycle will be dominated by the Presidential election. The next midterms will find Harris County run better – the next Houston mayor will see to it that they make some significant visible change. If we lose this opportunity we lose the best chance we have to make meaningful change for at least three cycles.