West Texas rural voters crucial for statewide races

Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 8:39 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 31, 2022 at 10:11 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Candidates for statewide office in Texas have made the West Texas area a frequent stop on the campaign trail, including gubernatorial candidates. Incumbent Greg Abbott is expected to knock on doors in Lubbock the Saturday before Election Day, a fourth campaign event this year in the Hub City.

“West Texas is incredibly important to us,” Texas GOP Chairman Matthew Rinaldi said. “In areas like Lubbock, the Republican Party needs to drive turnout in order to win those state races.”

Since announcing his run for Governor of Texas, Abbott’s challenger Beto O’Rourke has campaigned at least four times in Lubbock.

“Beto O’Rourke can, in fact, win this election but only if we all get out and vote in record numbers,” Texas Democratic Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.

Drew Landry is an Assistant Professor of Government at South Plains College. He told KCBD that the rural vote in Texas is much more powerful and influential in statewide elections than in other states.

“For Democrats, that’s the frustration because you have three of the top 10 most populated cities in America in our state,” Landry said. “In those areas and those counties, Democrats do very well, but as Democrats have found, that doesn’t get them the statewide victories. What keeps Texas the Republican state that it is, is the rural vote. The rural vote is, by far, much more powerful here, mainly due to the fact of the constant winning by the large margin of victory, that Republicans have over Democrats.”

Landry said Republicans must win by large margins to hold onto their control. If those margins are close, Texas has most likely flipped.

“It’s been this area of the state that gets to decide who the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and all the other statewide people are,” Landry said. “Republicans, they know what their minimum has to be and they don’t want to just squeak by, winning reelection. They want to win West Texas in very large amounts.”

Rinaldi agrees.

“We can’t just concentrate on areas with Democrat voters or with swing voters,” Rinaldi said. “We need to have incredible turnout from areas like Lubbock and West Texas.”