Could Texas Be Turning Blue?

Hillary Clinton joined Twitter this week and set in motion speculation about her possibly running for President in 2016 — and further fueled the possibility that Texas might just be ready to go blue. Could Texas, where Democrats did not exactly go out of their way to gain any of the state’s 38 electoral votes in 2012, be truly poised to bebattleground state?

Many point to “revolutionary demographic trends” in Texas as a major factor in the state again voting — as it did until the past 36 years — Democrat. As Richard Parker wrote in the New York Times, Texas was “reliably Democratic for more than a century, from Reconstruction through the Lyndon B. Johnson years.” Ann Richards, a Democrat, was Texas’ governor from 1991-1995; she was defeated for re-election by George W. Bush. Richards’ own predecessor in office, Bill Clements, was the first Republican governor of Texas since Reconstruction.

The primary reason that many cite for Texas going blue is the reality of demographics. Currently, 50.2 percent of the state’s 4.9 million public school children are Hispanic; last year, that figure was 49 percent. Indeed, two out of every three public school children in Texas as Hispanic, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Also, two mayors in two different cities, Mike Rawlings in Dallas and Annise Parker in Houston, have made real efforts to address sexual assault and domestic violence. Rawlings has devoted himself to campaigning against domestic violence via rallies and by calling on law enforcement to do more. Parker and the Houston Police Department have devoted millions to eliminate a long standing and notorious problem, a backlog of untested rape kits.

These changes at the regional level are in contrast to what Texas’ politicians have been up to. At a time when so many of Texas’ public school students are Hispanic, the state is cutting funding for public education, citing a budget shortfall of up to $27 billion. These cuts would be on top of already-existing problems in Texas’ education system. Steve Murdock, a former U.S. Census Bureau director and past state demographer, points out that, if Texas does nothing to change things, “the average Texas household in 2040 would be at least $6,500 poorer than it was in 2000 and about 30 percent of workers will not have a high-school diploma.”

Republicans are certainly aware that change is afoot in Texas. “No less an authority than Karl Rove is known to have been worrying about the political future of Texas for years,” says The Hill. The GOP is at work hiring 24 “minority outreach” staffers and has more than put its support behind Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas. But, as Parker notes, this could be another sign of the Republicans not quite realizing what they need to do. Rubio and Cruz are both Cuban-American; while non-Hispanics may not make much of this, it “significantly diminishes their appeal to Texas’ Latinos, who are primarily of Mexican heritage.”

Democrats more than have their work cut out for them to turn Texas just a bit purple. The Hispanic vote they are counting on is “not monolithically Democratic, nationally or in Texas,” Parker emphasizes. 40 percent of Texas Hispanics helped to re-elected George W. Bush in 2004. Rick Perry received almost 40 percent of the Hispanic vote statewide in 2010. In addition, the Democrats need to build up their political infrastructure throughout the U.S.’s second-most populous state.

University of Texas political scientist Daron Shaw points out that economic themes, such as education and entrepreneurship, could be key to pulling in Hispanic votes. A recent poll indeed found that the state’s Hispanic and Black voters listed the economy and jobs as their top issues, in contrast to white voters who listed immigration and border security as their top concerns.

Democrats need to take note of these different concerns, especially with a view to what Texas’ population will look like in the not too distant future. While there are currently 9.5 million Hispanics in Texas, about 38 percent of the state’s population, by 2020, Hispanics will make up the majority of Texas’ population. By 2030, their numbers will surpass those of the state’s white population.

In the race to turn Texas blue, Democrats need to focus not just on Texas’ changing demographics but also on registering and educating Hispanic voters and seeking out and training more Latino/a candidates. They have their work cut out for them — but it can’t be denied that prospect of a changing Texas more than has its appeal.

Photo from Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Sheri D.
Sheri D4 years ago

I hope it turns blue by the 2014 elections.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

...oops! I got turned around in that last sentence. They turn them blue is what I meant.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

People from "blue" states move to "red" states for all the advantages of republican leadership. Then they start voting "red", and turn them 'red".

Heather G.
Heather G4 years ago

Don't worry, Ellen G. By the next election republicans will be pandering to and/or bribing Hispanic people to get their votes. Hispanic voters are NOT idiots, and it's NOT up to you to decide what is in their best interests.

Karen H.
Karen H4 years ago

Ellen G, I have to agree with Cletus W. that your info is wrong, wrong, wrong. When Obama was first elected the GOP made its FIRST priority to keep him to a single term. Their first priority should have been SERVING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Work WITH the president rather than try to sabotage him at every turn. If he serves one term or two doesn’t matter—there’s always the next election; plus, it makes you look good that you’re willing to cooperate instead of sulking in a corner.
The GOP made campaign promises to create jobs. They created jobs alright—in other countries, where their cronies exported them.
You don’t believe in the War on Women? Marco Rubio (who wants to be president) voted AGAINST the Paycheck Fairness Act and Violence Against Women. That means, as a woman, he doesn’t give a damn if you do the same work as a man but are paid far less, or if you’re beaten to a pulp.
You’re insulting millions of Hispanics by referring to them as “the idiot vote.” Many of them have far more intelligence than you exhibit. You offer no facts, only the same crap the GOP has been feeding you.
Will Texas turn blue? Yes, if all the Republican candidates have a hissy fit & hold their breath.

Cletus W.
Cletus W.4 years ago

Ellen G. -- that's quite the fantasy world you live in. What color is the sky in your world?....or haven't they gotten around to telling you that yet? You are quite the little parrot of the fairtytales your rightwing media lords hammer into your empty head, like nails, everyday.

Talk about "manufacturing"! When you are able to come up with a REAL scandal in the Obama administration, one that hasn't been cooked-up by your slackjawed leaders and fed like sweet propaganda to the unwitted Teatard throng, you may come back and address this group. Until then, you enjoy your status as a floater in the rightwing cesspool.

It is humorous that you think our good citizens need to "manufacture" issues about the GOP -- that clown car is a proven self-replicating, continuous-motion disaster, with no need of help from [D]s!!

And so, instead of correcting the severe debilitations of your own party -- to indeed make a stronger 2-party system-- you witless feasters at the teats of the rightwing underbelly senselessly scratch and claw for any excuse to make-up [D] "scandals" so you can compare them to YOUR OWN most embarrasing past: Watergate. To call that foolish, would be to insult fools.

Ellen Gaston
Ellen Gaston4 years ago

Yes. Pandering to hispanics that are taking full advantage of the democrats' bribes and lies to get the useful idiot vote just might work. But considering the dizzying number of scandals revealed in the Obama Administration, you had better hurry up and manufacture some Tea-party hysteria and "war on women" lies before your useful idiots actually figure out voting (D) might not be in their best interest regardless of what their favorite Hollywood star says. Start smearing conservatives. Hurry. We wouldn't want a two-party system or anything.

Beverly M.
Past Member 4 years ago

It will be interesting to see what happens with the next election now that Obama wont be running again.

Mary T.
Mary T4 years ago

it would be nice it Texas went blue