For years, I’ve been hearing that Texas is going to turn into a “purple” swing state in the next decades. And my response has always been the same: that’s nonsense. I’m not saying that it is untrue. I’m just saying that there is no way to know. The brilliance of the Republican Party is how it is able to sculpt a world of the deserving and the undeserving. The fact that African Americans are not part of the Republican coalition is not directly because of their skin color. If the Republicans could win by glorifying African Americans and dumping on the white middle class, they would — just as long as they were still able to do their real business of taking from the poor and giving to the rich.
But last week, I saw this paper, Projecting Partisan Change Deep in the Heart of Texas, by Tiffany Cartwright and Tyler Young, two political scientists at Collin College. They looked at the changes of demographics over the next 35 years. Not surprisingly, they find that if voting patterns stay the same, by 2050, Texas will be a solidly blue state. Of course, voting patterns do not stay the same. But what shocked me was not how things would look in 2050, when we really can’t say what will be going on. The shocking finding is that by 2020 — just five years from now — Democrats will have a solid (six percentage point) advantage in Texas.
Note how stark this is. The last time Texas voted for a Democratic presidential candidate was 1976. Also, “Texas Democrats have not won a statewide election in over twenty years.” There is a reason that the people supporting Texas politicians running for president are so certain that Obama is in the process of “taking over” Texas with this Jade Helm nonsense: Texas isn’t just red — it is crazy red. So if Texas became at all competitive in the next few years, it would be amazing. It would also make things really hard for the Republican Party.
Of course, Texas is not going to vote Democratic in the 2020 presidential election. It almost certainly would if everyone eligible to vote actually voted. But we know that is not going to happen. And in the case of Texas, the problem is extreme. The demographic shift in Texas is largely due to increasing Latino population. And they are terrible voters! “In the last few decades, reported turnout among Hispanic voters is about half that of white or black voters in Texas.” Of course, that might change as Latinos respond to their greater political power. Sad to say, people are more likely to vote if they think they will win. The problem is that it will take time to get Latinos to take voting more seriously. And during that time, the Republicans will be working to re-brand the “right” kind of people and the “wrong” kind of people.
Nevertheless, I find this all interesting. Even as early as 2020, the Republicans are going to at least have to start protecting Texas as their territory. And that’s a good start. There doesn’t seem to be any move at all among Republicans to reach out to Latino voters. As Republican voters get whiter, they seem to demand ever more extreme demonstrations of anger at immigrants. Eventually, the Republicans will get over that. But in the next five years? I don’t think so.