Greg Abbott's mother-in-law strategy and the Hispanic vote

The smashing victory Greg Abbott pulled off in the Texas governor’s race, humiliating the endlessly touted Wendy Davis by more than 20 points, was accomplished with the help of 40% of the Hispanic vote.  Abbott, who as governor will have to find ways to pay for the costs of illegal immigration, is no Amnesty Now! type.  He favors border security.  So how on Earth, the Deep Thinkers of the left wonder, did he do it?

One way, according to Kiah Collier of the Austin American-Statesman, is by playing some identity politics of his own, capitalizing on his Hispanic wife and especially his mother-in-law:

Standing under a glaring sun at a get-out-the-vote event in the Rio Grande Valley last week, Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa wrinkled his nose at the thought of the Spanish- and English-language television ad featuring Greg Abbott’s Hispanic mother-in-law.

Hinojosa, who lives in Brownsville, said no one in the predominantly Latino Valley really cared whether Abbott, then the front-running Republican candidate for governor, had a Hispanic mother-in-law — or wife, for that matter — or whether his mother-in-law thought Texans would love having him as governor, as she says in the ad.

A week later, the day after Abbott walloped Democratic competitor Wendy Davis by more than 20 percentage points and garnered a share of the Hispanic vote considered impressive for a Republican, Abbott’s campaign advisers said in a post-election debriefing that the ad was the most effective of the campaign and helped them come very close to achieving their goal of winning 45 percent of the coveted Hispanic vote.

Here is the TV ad, which ran for two and a half months, unusually long for any campaign ad:

 

And here is an example of the billboards that were placed all over the Rio Grande Valley, referencing the ad and reminding Hispanic voters of the warmth of the relationship Abbott enjoyed with his Madrena.

Like most American Thinker readers, I am the sort of guy who picks candidates to back based on their policies and positions, not on ethnic identity or even likability. But alas, we are not the bulk of the electorate.  The sad lesson of the Romney defeat in 2012 is that many, many people pick a candidate based on whether he or she “cares about people like me.”  Without the votes of this low-information cohort of the electorate, success is unlikely.

Abbott’s campaign deftly picked up relationships and cultural themes that resonated with a significant part of the electorate, and positioned him as someone benignly supportive of them.  And it worked!

The irony is that Wendy Davis’s campaign assumed from the outset that they could play this game, and win the governorship by appealing to women, who would automatically vote for someone with a uterus.  But they were so arrogant and wrapped up in their own feminist bubble that they failed to appeal to women who didn’t see the right to late-term abortion as the major issue of the day.  Paul J. Weber of the AP writes:

Exit polls show Davis fared no better with women than her male Democratic predecessor in 2010, despite being one of the most recognizable female candidates in the U.S. and a campaign that aggressively courted women with gender issues and attention-grabbing ads.

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott won 54 percent of female voters — roughly the same edge Gov. Rick Perry had with women four years ago. And Abbott’s advantage wasn’t just among Republican women: He carried roughly double the support that Davis pulled with women who described themselves as politically independent.

Abbott even won a majority of college-educated women, putting the lie to the stereotype Democrats like to push that smart people (i.e., credentialed people) vote for them.

I guarantee you that Jeb Bush has noticed how well this strategy worked for Abbott.

Hat tip: David Paulin

The smashing victory Greg Abbott pulled off in the Texas governor’s race, humiliating the endlessly touted Wendy Davis by more than 20 points, was accomplished with the help of 40% of the Hispanic vote.  Abbott, who as governor will have to find ways to pay for the costs of illegal immigration, is no Amnesty Now! type.  He favors border security.  So how on Earth, the Deep Thinkers of the left wonder, did he do it?

One way, according to Kiah Collier of the Austin American-Statesman, is by playing some identity politics of his own, capitalizing on his Hispanic wife and especially his mother-in-law:

Standing under a glaring sun at a get-out-the-vote event in the Rio Grande Valley last week, Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa wrinkled his nose at the thought of the Spanish- and English-language television ad featuring Greg Abbott’s Hispanic mother-in-law.

Hinojosa, who lives in Brownsville, said no one in the predominantly Latino Valley really cared whether Abbott, then the front-running Republican candidate for governor, had a Hispanic mother-in-law — or wife, for that matter — or whether his mother-in-law thought Texans would love having him as governor, as she says in the ad.

A week later, the day after Abbott walloped Democratic competitor Wendy Davis by more than 20 percentage points and garnered a share of the Hispanic vote considered impressive for a Republican, Abbott’s campaign advisers said in a post-election debriefing that the ad was the most effective of the campaign and helped them come very close to achieving their goal of winning 45 percent of the coveted Hispanic vote.

Here is the TV ad, which ran for two and a half months, unusually long for any campaign ad:

 

And here is an example of the billboards that were placed all over the Rio Grande Valley, referencing the ad and reminding Hispanic voters of the warmth of the relationship Abbott enjoyed with his Madrena.

Like most American Thinker readers, I am the sort of guy who picks candidates to back based on their policies and positions, not on ethnic identity or even likability. But alas, we are not the bulk of the electorate.  The sad lesson of the Romney defeat in 2012 is that many, many people pick a candidate based on whether he or she “cares about people like me.”  Without the votes of this low-information cohort of the electorate, success is unlikely.

Abbott’s campaign deftly picked up relationships and cultural themes that resonated with a significant part of the electorate, and positioned him as someone benignly supportive of them.  And it worked!

The irony is that Wendy Davis’s campaign assumed from the outset that they could play this game, and win the governorship by appealing to women, who would automatically vote for someone with a uterus.  But they were so arrogant and wrapped up in their own feminist bubble that they failed to appeal to women who didn’t see the right to late-term abortion as the major issue of the day.  Paul J. Weber of the AP writes:

Exit polls show Davis fared no better with women than her male Democratic predecessor in 2010, despite being one of the most recognizable female candidates in the U.S. and a campaign that aggressively courted women with gender issues and attention-grabbing ads.

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott won 54 percent of female voters — roughly the same edge Gov. Rick Perry had with women four years ago. And Abbott’s advantage wasn’t just among Republican women: He carried roughly double the support that Davis pulled with women who described themselves as politically independent.

Abbott even won a majority of college-educated women, putting the lie to the stereotype Democrats like to push that smart people (i.e., credentialed people) vote for them.

I guarantee you that Jeb Bush has noticed how well this strategy worked for Abbott.

Hat tip: David Paulin