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Voting trends in Texas

Bruce Davidson cites a report by former political director of the Texas Republican Party and current analyst for the Quorum Report Royal Masset on current demographic trends and its likely effect on Texas’ voting patterns.

“Republicans will start losing judicial races in Dallas County in 2004. After the 2008 general election, Democrats will hold many state level district judicial offices in Dallas County,” Masset wrote in a January study conducted for advocates of a merit/retention selection system for Texas judges.

He added, “By 2017, most district judicial offices in Harris County and all in Dallas County will be held by Democrats. These projections are based on ineluctable current trends.”

The statewide growth of the GOP has masked the changing voting patterns in Dallas and Harris counties, he said.

“The election of judges is largely determined by the partisan tides of any given election and by longer-term demographic factors,” Masset noted.

In Dallas and Harris counties, Republican candidates have continued to win, but by margins smaller than the statewide results. The growing weakness of the GOP is more pronounced in Dallas than Harris. For example, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Paul Womack, a Republican, snared 57.39 percent of the statewide vote in 2002. But Womack got 51.21 percent of the vote in Dallas and 54.85 percent in Harris. Other statewide races show the same trend.

In 1990, Dallas County’s Anglo population was 60 percent, but it dropped to 44 percent in 2000. Harris County’s Anglo population dropped from 54 percent to 42 percent in the same period.

In Dallas, Hispanic population increased from 17 percent to almost 30 percent from 1990 to 2000, while Harris’ Hispanic population jumped from 22 percent to almost 34 percent.

Republicans have made inroads among Hispanic voters, but Hispanics still tend to vote Democratic. “The most favorable Republican interpretation of Hispanic voting patterns in Texas would lead to the conclusion that Hispanics voted about 35 percent for Republican candidates in 2002 compared to 25 percent for Republican candidates in 1982,” Masset concluded.

This is a theme I’ve explored here a few times, and it’s worth coming back to from time to time, especially when a Republican analyst arrives at the same conclusions. There’s good reason to be skeptical of the belief that Hispanics will automatically vote Democratic (see here, here, and here for a primer), but let’s put this number in context: Right now, the Democratic Party in Texas aims to get 35% of the Anglo vote (a projection they still failed to achieve last year) and they get their butts kicked. As Hispanics become a bigger slice (and eventually, a majority) of the electorate, Republicans are in deep trouble if they don’t improve on their own 35% number.

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  1. ByronUT says:

    Most of us from Dallas expected it to flip Dem last year, but I’ll hand it to the GOP for their GOTV efforts in Dallas County. GOP precincts turned out in 2002 and Dem precincts didn’t. Even so, former Republican Sally Montgomery became the first Democrat to win a countywide race in nearly a decade (I believe). Over the past few cycles the DPI in Dallas has gone up roughly 2 points each election cycle to 47.5 in 2002, thus the 2004 DPI should be around 49.5. While the Hispanic vote has yet to materialize in Dallas County as a powerful force, Hispanics have moved into formerly (majority) white suburban neighborhoods, and the white suburbanites are more likely to move to Plano and other suburbs in Collin and Denton counties, and any way you cut it, it’s a net loss for the Dallas GOP. Dallas County will be solidly Democratic by the end of the decade. For the next few election cycles, it’ll be competetive, but by the end of the decade Democrats will likely control the commissioners court and the vast majority of the judicial / countywide offices.

  2. precinct1233 says:

    and, with Presidential turnout and a Hispanic on the Democratic ballot for sheriff, I think the DPI will break 51.