Interesting article about the changing demographics in Fort Bend County and the changes in politics that have come with it.
Today the GOP holds 27 of 31 elective offices in the county.
Rick Miller aims to keep it that way. The 65-year-old retired Navy pilot moved to Sugar Land in 1999, and, with his wife, Babs, started getting politically active in 2006. When an internecine feud led to the resignation of the Republican party chair in 2007, he ran and won.
“The demographics are changing here in Fort Bend County,” Miller acknowledges, “and we’re kind of watching it really closely. We saw the effect of that in the Obama presidential race against McCain. The election was a lot closer than we thought it was going to be. Fort Bend went for McCain, but it was really pretty close.”
In 2004, the county gave nearly two-thirds of its vote to Bush-Cheney. Four years later, the McCain-Palin ticket won the county by a margin of 4,710 votes, 51 percent to 49 percent.
Miller’s Democratic counterpart, Stephen Brown, sees the county as “ground zero” in his party’s bid to emerge from political purgatory. “It’s only when we start to win suburban Texas that we have a chance to take the state back – the House, the Senate and the Governor’s Mansion,” he says.
In 2004, only 11,000 people voted in Fort Bend County’s Democratic presidential primary. Four years later, that number jumped to 68,517. Brown’s job is to get the newcomers out to vote and to reignite the 2008 momentum. His goal for November is 70,000 Democratic voters.
Political scientist [Richard] Murray says he thinks Bill White “probably will carry Fort Bend – and he must.”
I’m quite certain that Bill White cannot be elected Governor unless he wins Fort Bend. He could carry Fort Bend and still lose the election, but if he loses in Fort Bend, I feel confident he can’t win.
You can see some of the trends in Fort Bend’s voting patterns here, here, here, and here. The pattern is similar to what we’ve seen in Harris County – the number of Republican voters grows a little, while the number of Democratic voters grows a lot. Maybe the enthusiasm gap, if it actually exists in Texas, will counter some of that. On the other hand, Fort Bend’s Democratic Party is vastly better organized now than it was in 2006, thanks to its new party chair, and that will have an effect as well. If I had to place a bet, I’d put my coin on White carrying the county. We’ll see how it goes.