If I first met Stacey Abrams 10 years agoI knew immediately that her work in Georgia had great potential. While Stacey kindly referred to my wife and I as her first national supporters – even joking that we supported her before it made sense – the ingredients for success in Georgia have been there all along if you knew what you were after should look for. Now that the world has marveled at the wonder of Georgia, we should consider which states are next and what lessons from the Georgia trip can be applied to the political transformation of other states.
The next state most clearly prepared for a Georgia-like trajectory is Texas.
I’m working on a book for the Neue Presse that analyzes success stories in states that are improving the national political balance of power, and I’ve identified four factors that are critical to victory. All of these elements were present in Georgia, and Texas has a similar constellation of ingredients for success (it’s important to note that while Georgia and Arizona now dominated the national limelight, they have also followed similar paths, with Virginia actually being a bit further away on the trip than most other states).
The threshold factor for determining the likelihood of a state switching from red to blue is the composition of the population and the demographics of that population. The 2008 celebration of Barack Obama’s historic victory largely overlooked the fact that he received 47 percent of the vote in Georgia despite removing employees from the state and stopping advertising there. Obama lost Peach State by 205,000 votes, and there were nearly 1 million people of color who were eligible to vote but did not cast any ballots. You didn’t have to be good at math to see that increasing the number of color pickers was the way forward for big changes in Georgia.
Texas at the beginning of this decade is even more promising than Georgia at the beginning of the last decade. The Lone Star State has the second largest pool of non-voting colored people of any state in the country (after California, which is already blue), and the number of potential color voters far exceeds the margin of difference in national elections. Joe Biden lost Texas with 631,221 votes, and despite the record turnout on both sides, 4.5 million eligible blacks still didn’t vote, according to polls and census data. In 2018, Beto O’Rourke lost its Senate bid by 215,000 votes in an election in which 5.4 million people of color failed to cast their ballots. The untapped potential in Texas is enormous, that’s exactly why Conservatives are working so hard to suppress the vote there.
Level 5 leader
A key cornerstone of success is leadership – in general, and the presence of what author Jim Collins calls the Level 5 Leader in particular. Collins, in his book Good to great analyzed 1,435 companies to distill the essential elements that marked the most successful organizations and described level 5 executives as follows:
Level 5 executives direct their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It’s not that level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious – but their ambition is primarily for the institution, not themselves. [They] are fanatically motivated, infected with an incurable need for results.
Stacey Abrams is such a leader. Although she is very famous now, what is most notable is how ambitious she is Not was for himself, but for the cause. When he was a minority leader in the Senate and dreamed of becoming a majority leader, Chuck was Schumer asked Abrams to run for the U.S. Senate in 2019, but she declined the appeals and instead encouraged Rev. Raphael Warnock to compete in the race. While at the start of the 2020 presidential contest, apparently every white Democratic politician who had ever run for office had decided he could and should become president, Stacey passed the race on to, as she likes to say, “get the job done. “And the work she’s done laid the groundwork for ousting a white nationalist from the White House and taking control of the United States Senate.
Texas is blessed to have level 5 leaders too. Two of the most important are Michelle Tremillo and Brianna Brown, the managing director and assistant director of the Texas organization project. The fact that you probably haven’t heard from them is testament to their Level 5 humility. Like Stacey, they are insanely focused on “getting the job done” and have TOP built into a relentless and effective civic engagement machine This has helped improve election results in cities and counties across the state. As graduates of elite universities, they could have had far more lucrative and prestigious careers, but they made meaningful life choices to focus their energies and talents on the cause of Texas transformation.
Texas has so many Mexican Americans and African Americans (together 53 percent of the state’s population) for a reason – the land there formerly belonged to Mexico and was annexed to the United States through war and bloodshed in the 1840s, leaving the residents of The State could keep blacks in slavery. Just as Abram’s success is rooted in the history of civil rights in Georgia, it is not insignificant that Mexican-American and African-American daughters from Texas run an organization that is anchored in and driving change.
Strong civic engagement organizations
Having a large pool of potential color voters in a state that is changing demographically is an essential part of success. To translate this population potential into political power, however, well-run, community-based, disciplined organizations are required. The existence of a strong infrastructure for civic engagement is the third pillar of the transformation of a state.
The political metamorphosis of Virginia over the past decade would not have been possible without the steady and shrewd work of Virginia New Virginia majority and other key groups that registered 300,000 voters and knocked on 2.5 million doors to pave the way for Democrats to take control of all branches of government in 2019. The work that resulted in Arizona electing two Democratic Senators and defeating Trump started 10 years ago When a constellation of community-level organizations came together to form the One Arizona Coalition, which has steadily organized itself into color communities across the state and has increased the number of Latino voters significantly in recent years. And in Georgia, Stacey saw the need for a key vehicle in 2014 when she founded the New Georgia Project and recruited Nse Ufot, another Level 5 leader, to lead the project to develop it into a business that did 3,000 organizers hired and trained in all 159 counties of the state and registered half a million voters.
The Texas Organizing Project plays a similar pivotal role in Texas. TOP has a membership of 285,000 people and reported in 2020 that 310,000 rare color voters who did not vote in 2016 emerged directly. TOP’s voter registration and mobilization work tipped the scales in close mayoral elections in Houston and San Antonio, and it helped elect progressive prosecutors in five counties. The fact that Trump won Texas hides the progress made. Trump squeezed every last vote out of a constituency that Joy Reid calls “demographic panic” and, as the runoff elections in Georgia showed, without Trump and the fanatical loyalty to him that leads people to storm the Capitol and to police officers assassinate Republican voter turnout is less visceral and large, which makes winning the Texas gubernatorial election and capturing the State House in 2022 a real possibility.
Add a zero
I have tried to illustrate the chronic underfunding of the most effective and promising leaders and groups by saying that donors should add a zero to their contributions to these organizations. Stacey’s PAC Georgia Next, Inc. raised just $ 53,000 in 2012 (yet still met its goal of blocking a Republican super-major that year). In 2020, her organization Fair Fight raised $ 90 millionand, properly funded, it has been able to save the entire democracy by standing up to the full strength of the President of the United States, the Republican Party, all nationally elected officials in Georgia, and countless millions of dollars from Republicans and countering dark money operations.
Texas is bigger than Georgia, and the long-term potential is even greater than what we see in Georgia, but the organizations and leaders there are extremely underfunded to do their jobs. The budget of TOP is approximately 5 million US dollars. It should be $ 50 million. The democratic ecosystem of party committees, super PACs, and progressive groups spends nearly $ 1 billion each cycle. Of this, $ 200 million should go to Texas.
Georgia has shown the world that it is possible. Texas stands ready to build on this model and continue the revolutionary work to transform America into the multicultural democracy it aims to achieve.