As Goes Texas, So Goes the Nation?

Bookmark and Share    The census numbers for heavily Republican Texas have come in and while the state’s anticipated population growth was going to pick up as many as 4 new Congressional districts, Republicans can’t necessarily count on these seats being Republican districts. For the first time in contemporary history Texas now has a majority of minorities in its population. Conventional thinking is that this will soon turn a heavily red state blue or at least turn it into a swing state and give Democrats a lead in 3 of the 4 most populous states in the nation.

But a look at a few statistics gives Republicans cause for hope.

Texas Republicans seem to be better at appealing to Hispanic voters, the fastest growing minority population, than do most other State Republican Parties. G.W. Bush received nearly 40% of the Hispanic Vote when he ran for Governor and incumbent Governor Rick Perry garnered 38% of the same vote in his last election. These numbers are huge when compared to the typical national average for Republicans. But more than that, in 2010, incumbent Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold was able to maintain his seat in a majority Hispanic district and two of the newest Republican freshmen in Congress who come from Texas are Hispanic …….Bill Flores and Quico Canseco. Additional good news is that many Hispanic Democrats who are elected to the Texas state legislature are conservative and some have defected to the G.O.P.

In the meantime, while Texas’s new majority-minority population status and overall increased population creates 4 new Congressional Districts and electoral votes for the state, all the above factors upend the conventional thinking that they will be quickly occupied by Democrats. Indeed it is likely that 2 new majority-minority districts will be created, but it is not a foregone conclusion that they will elect Democrats.

The culture of Texas and make up of its population has a great part in this. Texas is indeed the Lone State and that spirit of independence runs through the Texas culture probably more so than most other states. But Hispanics in Texas tend to spread out through the state and live in more rural and suburban neighborhoods than do their counterparts in places like New York and California where they tend to be concentrated in urban centers. The rural versus urban culture plays heavily in to voting patterns. People who live in more rural settings where services are far and far and few between, tend to vote more conservatively than do those in the big city/big government regions of the nation.

But that factor is not the sole reason for Republicans being much more competitive among Hispanics in Texas than most other states. The Texas G.O.P. does not ignore Hispanic voters. It focuses on them. It even recruits Hispanic leaders to run for office on the local levels, sort of like a baseball farm team for higher offices.

So while the fact that Texas has now become a minority-majority population should initially scare the bejeezus out of Republicans by signaling the possibility of becoming the next California and New York-like Democrat stronghold, such is not the case. The only real case here is for the G.O.P to apply the Texas approach to Hispanic voters on a national level. The concept is not impossible. After all, look at Texas’ heavily Democratic neighbor New Mexico. It just elected a Republican Governor, a Hispanic Republican, woman, governor, the strong and feisty Susana Martinez.

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