Is it time for a Blue Texas?
This week, we announced our second round of Texas House endorsements. Our slate of Texas candidates are well-poised to take advantage of the rapidly changing conditions in the increasingly blue suburbs of the Lone Star State.
But we’ve been hearing about the future blue Texas for a while and seen substantial underperformance, particularly during the disappointing outcomes of the 2014 cycle. It’s made us wary to jump into Texas. Are things different this time around? How do we know?
The 2018 cycle was a watershed moment. While undoubtedly a good year for Democrats in most places, Texas saw particular gains in districts that would not have been on the radar only a few years ago. Democrats picked up two State Senate seats, 12 State House seats, two US House seats, and came within two points of beating Ted Cruz. To see the rapid change in Texas, let’s look at the results by State House District for the 2012 and 2016 Presidential elections and the 2018 US Senate race.
Figure 1. Change in the Texas Political Landscape – Statewide
Like many areas around the country, Texas has seen rapid changes in its suburbs that used to be Republican strongholds. We start in Austin, comparing election results from the 2012 presidential (left), 2016 presidential (center), and the 2018 US Senate (right).
Figure 2. Change in the Texas Political Landscape – Austin
In statewide results, Democrats saw a net gain of four seats. Democrats picked up all of those seats in 2018.
We see a similar pattern emerge in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As above, results from the 2012 presidential are on the left, the 2016 presidential is in the center, and the 2018 US Senate is on the right.
Figure 3. Change in the Texas Political Landscape – Dallas-Forth Worth
In statewide results, Democrats saw a net gain of 12 seats. Currently, five of those seats are held by Republicans.
Finally, we turn to Houston. Results from the 2012 presidential are on the left, the 2016 presidential is in the center, and the 2018 US Senate is on the right.
Figure 4. Change in the Texas Political Landscape – Houston
In statewide results, Democrats saw a net gain of five seats. Currently, three of those seats are held by Republicans.
In total, there are nine GOP-held State House districts that statewide Democratic candidates have won since 2012, and Democrats need to flip nine districts to flip the State House (for those keeping count, the ninth district is in the San Antonio area). These nine districts show why Democrats are in a strong position to flip the State House this year.
Our six endorsed candidates are running in these nine districts; the remaining three districts have primary runoffs. There are also a number of districts that Beto O’Rourke narrowly lost in 2018 that are on our radar, too. Check out our interactive Texas State House map to learn more about our endorsed candidates and to see all of the districts on our “Watch List.”
The table below shows more about the demographic composition of the six districts where we’ve made endorsements.
Table. The Demographics of Likely Voters in our Six Texas Endorsed Districts
|Rating||Favor R||Favor R||Lean D||Lean R||Favor R||Lean D|
|College White Males||22%||28%||33%||19%||23%||31%|
|College White Females||24%||29%||34%||19%||25%||32%|
|Non-College White Males||16%||7%||6%||13%||9%||5%|
|Non-College White Females||20%||9%||8%||16%||13%||7%|
These districts look like some of the key college-educated places that Democrats are winning nationwide. Our slate of female candidates emphasizes another critical post-2016 trend: women are leading the way in making change at the state level.
However, we are also taking a targeted approach. In addition to the nine GOP-held seats that Beto won, he came within 5 points in nine more. There has been some focus on this second tier—like the HD 28 special election earlier this year. We’re continuing to track these races, but we believe that some of those districts continue to have strong GOP-leaning fundamentals, and we’ll be cautious before jumping in more.
Notwithstanding that caution, the moment for change in Texas has definitely arrived. In addition to these winnable districts and strong campaigns, the in-state Democratic leadership in Texas has built one of the strongest coordination and strategy approaches that we’ve seen anywhere.
A bluer Texas would drive fairer outcomes and better policy for millions in our country’s second largest state. As Texas continues to change, Democrats can ride the wave to victory, and you can help us get these candidates across the finish line by making a donation.