- Seeks to transform the traditionally Republican state of Texas into a Democratic stronghold
Launched on February 26, 2013, Battleground Texas (BT) seeks to transform the traditionally Republican Lone Star State into a Democratic stronghold by “expanding the electorate by registering more voters—and, as importantly, mobilizing those Texans who are already registered but who have not been engaged in the democratic process.”
Toward that end, BT relies heavily on the efforts of volunteers and organizers “knocking on doors, registering voters, and engaging Texans” to support Democratic candidates. (As of February 2014, the organization claimed to have more than 10,000 volunteers with deputy voter registrar status.) BT believes that large numbers of Texans are “tired of not being heard, tired of not being represented … and tired of the same Republican playbook which is failing our communities and ignoring the[ir] needs.” Vowing to “change the face of presidential politics in this country as we know it,” BT points out that “with 38 electoral votes at stake, a blue [Democratic] Texas would be a surefire road to the White House.” In short, the objective is to take Texas and make it impossible for Republicans to ever again win a presidential election.
BT notes that as of 2012, Hispanics (who tend to vote heavily Democratic) constituted 41% of Texas’ citizenry, while whites were 43%. In BT’s calculus, existing demographic trends (birth rates, immigration rates, and the gradual maturation of Texas’s large pre-voting-age Hispanic population) will eventually—by themselves—make Texas a plurality-Hispanic state by 2017 and a majority-Hispanic (and thus majority-Democrat) state by 2036. But the organization aims to focus on three major priorities in order to more rapidly make demography into destiny for Texas:
1) Voter Registration: Because Hispanics in Texas have been far less likely than their white counterparts to be registered voters, BT places heavy emphasis on registering the state’s 1.5 million unregistered Hispanics. It also seeks to target the 500,000 unregistered African-Americans and 200,000 unregistered Asian-Americans, groups that are likewise reliable supporters of Democrats.
2) Voter Participation: Noting that Hispanics have been significantly less inclined than whites to vote even when registered, BT devotes many of its resources and energies to voter-mobilization initiatives.
3) Voting Blue: BT strives to influence public opinion in Texas via messaging that depicts Republicans as racists who do not understand the needs and concerns of nonwhite voters.
BT’s senior adviser is Jeremy Bird, who served as national field director of President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and is the founder of a consulting firm called 270 Strategies; Bird previously worked on the presidential campaigns of Obama in 2008, John Kerry in 2004, and Howard Dean, also in 2004.
In his 2012 work for Obama, Bird coordinated the registering of some 361,000 left-leaning voters in Florida, 156,000 left-leaning voters in Colorado, and 96,000 left-leaning voters in Nevada. These contacts were not limited solely to Democrats, but also targeted Republicans and undecided voters who, based upon personal information the Obama campaign had collected, were deemed likely to respond favorably to pro-Obama messaging. As a reward for Bird’s achievements, the Obama administration allowed him to essentially pick whatever job he wished to tackle after the 2012 election. He chose to devote his efforts to Battleground Texas.
In a February 2013 conference call with reporters, Bird said, “Our approach—using smart data, people-to-people organizing, and digital strategies and analytics—can win even the toughest of campaigns, and we know it will work in Texas too.” The Wall Street Journal describes Bird’s approach as “one part data and one part emotional connection,” noting that “he keeps close track of which states are making their targets each day, but also preaches the value of relationships—between the campaign and its volunteers, and between volunteers and voters.”
Working alongside Bird were such notables as: (a) BT’s executive director, Jenn Brown, who previously served as Ohio field director for the 2012 Obama campaign; and (b) BT’s digital director, Christina Gomez, a former digital strategist for the Democratic National Committee.
In February 2014, investigative journalist James O’Keefe released undercover video evidence that BT was illegally saving phone numbers and addresses from voter-registration forms, in order to expand its contact list for later efforts to maximize voter turnout on election day. According to Breitbart News, “Texas Election Code prohibits the use of, or even the copying of, phone numbers provided by individuals registering to vote.” But O’Keefe’s video footage showed BT field organizer Jennifer Longoria saying, “Every time we register somebody to vote, we keep their name, address, phone number…. That data collection is the key.”
 In 2008, 70% of registered Hispanic voters turned out at the polls, as compared to 88% of both whites and blacks who were registered. In 2010, the corresponding figures were 43% of registered Hispanics, 65% of registered whites, and 62% of registered blacks.