Although Texas' ornery primary-caucus hybrid doesn't take place until March 4, polls are already open and voters are flooding "the reddest counties in a deep red state" to choose a Democratic presidential candidate. The record early turnout is an eye-opening phenomenon, writes Austin American-Statesman columnist Arnold Garcia Jr., who wonders whether a Dem surge can continue through November.
Even if the eventual nominee doesn't win Texas in the general election, says Garcia, a strong showing could help Democrats retake the state legislature and scramble the 2010 race for governor. The Clinton-Obama excitement helps, but the shift can be chalked up above all to the state's former executive. "It was George W. Bush who led Texas Democrats into the wilderness," writes Garcia, "and George W. Bush fatigue could lead them out."