The Dumbos/Morons had better enjoy their statewide victory in 2014 because there is a purple haze on the horizon. To paraphrase St. Hofstadter, Texas was born in the country and is moving to the 'burbs. Loving County in West Texas contains 82 residents that's right. fourscore and two hardy souls. In the 2010 census, Harris County had 4,092,459 residents and its urban sprawl was the size of three eastern states. The POTUS 44 carried Houston in both 2008 and 2012; the rural areas of the state not so much. If this is (fair & balanced) political destiny, so be it.
PS: The freshman members of the Texas House of Representatives observed "Purple Thursdays" in 2013 and celebrated bipartisanship throughout the session.
[x NY Fishwrap]
Will Cities Turn Texas Purple?
By Richard Parker
Tag Cloud of the following piece of writing
For most of a long, hot summer, Wendy Davis’s campaign for governor here resembled a cowboy lost in the desert — horseless, stumbling and finally just left for dead in the remorseless Texas heat. Despite a strong national profile, she trailed her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, sometimes by double digits. Among the experts, a conventional wisdom set in: Ms. Davis can’t win, Republicans can’t lose and Texas won’t change.
Yet as summer has turned to fall, Ms. Davis has entered new territory: Last week a poll by the Texas Lyceum, a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution, showed that Ms. Davis has narrowed that gap to just nine points, and pundits around the state are talking about a new momentum behind her. What happened?
The short answer is tactics. Ms. Davis’s campaign hasn’t been perfect, but she is dogged on the stump, and has stood up well to Mr. Abbott’s attacks.
Of course, Ms. Davis is still nine points back, and she has just five weeks to catch up. Which is why the longer explanation for her turnaround is more important, not just for Texas, but the country.
Many hoping to see Texas go purple point to the growth of its Hispanic community. And that’s part of it, but not everything. Population growth, soaring diversity and dense urbanization are also transforming Texas, much as they have done in Virginia and North Carolina.
This goes against the conventional wisdom about Texas politics, which is often rooted in a historical shorthand that begins with the election of George W. Bush as governor in 1994. Before that, the state was reliably Democratic; after that, it has gotten redder and redder.
In reality, Texas’ realignment was a process, not an event, 30 years in the making. In the 1970s and 1980s, the two major parties battled for power. Yet social change, the arrival of migrants from the Rust Belt, ultimately resolved the matter. They settled in the suburbs and voted solidly Republican. Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, voted Republican in every presidential election from 1992 to 2004.
Today that realignment is being almost precisely reversed. Texas’ economy has been booming almost nonstop since 2000, and the state added 4.3 million people between 2000 and 2010. Americans came from every point on the map. Once a minority, the Hispanic population swelled, too, and will be the largest ethnic group in Texas this year (some say they could be the majority by 2020).
Yet there is far more to political change in Texas than the emerging Hispanic majority. Take greater Houston. The suburbs that once determined its voting patterns have become just one part of a megalopolis. Covering nearly as much territory as Maryland, the Houston area is the most diverse [PDF] in America — even more so than New York or Los Angeles.
Houston is not merely more Hispanic; the fastest-growing ethnic group is Asian. The kimchi taco is a hit. Some 90 languages are spoken. The city government will soon publish information in six languages. And 98 percent of the population growth in the first 10 years of this century has been nonwhite.
This diversity is rippling out to the far suburbs, counties that have long been white and Republican — and vital for winning statewide office. The most diverse part of the Houston region is now Missouri City, which straddles Brazoria County and Fort Bend County on the city’s southwestern edge and is filling with Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans seeking bigger homes and better schools.
The same trends are found in the Texas Triangle, an increasingly dense region bounded by Houston, San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth. It includes less than 20 percent of the state’s land but all its biggest cities. Conservative politicians do poorly in these settings.
The political shift is unmistakable. In Houston, 83 percent of residents favor a legal path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Six in 10 say abortion is morally wrong but oppose making it harder for women to get one. In August, an effort to repeal Houston’s new equal protection ordinance for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people failed.
Not only did Harris County vote for Barack Obama in 2008, but in 2012 it was joined by all of Texas’ big urban counties and cities, which Democrats have controlled for years. Republican strength is on the wane in some of those key suburbs, too. The Republican margin in Fort Bend County shrank in 2012 from double digits to just six points.
None of this is to say that Ms. Davis will win — but she might. And four years from now, she, or another candidate, will have an even easier time. No, that dusky sky up there is not blue. It is still burnt orange — but with quite a bit of purple. Ω
[Richard Parker has been a correspondent, columnist, and contributor at the NY Fishwrap since 2005. He is the author of Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America(2014). Parker received a BA (political science) from Trinity University and an MA (political science) from Tulane University.]
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