Author:
Kris Seago
Subject:
Government/Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Level:
Academic Lower Division
Provider:
Austin Community College
Tags:
ACC Liberal Arts, ACC OER
License:
Creative Commons Attribution
Language:
English
Media Formats:
Text/HTML

Voting and Political Participation in Texas

Overview

Voting and Political Participation in Texas

Chapter Learning Objective

By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Identify the voting rights and responsibilities of Texas' citizens

Introduction: Voting and Political Participation in a Changing Texas

A map of Fort Bend County
Figure 7.1 This 1898 General Land Office map of Fort Bend County shows land grants that date back to those secured from Spain by Stephen F. Austin. Many of the original bounderies are still in place today. Image Credit: Andrew Teas, License: CC BY

Fort Bend County covers an area along the Brazos River southwest of Houston. For most of the 20th Century, it was a rural area known for ranching and cotton farming, and as the home of Imperial Sugar and several large state prisons. As Texas shifted from a predominantly Democratic to a predominantly Republican state in the 1970s, Fort Bend County’s rural, conservative roots brought it enthusiastically along with the trend. In 1976, only 39 percent of Fort Bend voters selected Jimmy Carter for President in a race in which he carried Texas over President Gerald Ford.

In the 2000s, Republican majorities began to shrink. Mitt Romney won Fort Bend County with only 53 percent in 2012, and Hillary Clinton carried Fort Bend County in 2016, even as 52 percent of Texas voters chose Donald Trump. 

In the 2018 election, every countywide election was won by a Democrat, with challenger Beto O’Rourke outpolling incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz by more than 11 points, even as Cruz was reelected statewide. How did rural/suburban Fort Bend County become what appears to be at least a Democratic-leaning, if not solidly Democratic, county?

The answer lies at least partly in demographics. The population of Fort Bend grew almost 30 percent from 2010 to the 2018 election, and the 19 percent growth in Anglos was far outpaced by Asians (56%), Hispanics (33%) and African Americans (22%). The latest Census data shows Fort Bend as the most diverse county in Texas – meaning that it has the most closely equal percentages of the four major racial groups at 35% Anglo, 24% Hispanic, 20% African American and 21% Asian and other.

For better or worse, race is a strong predictor of political party preferences. As non-Anglo races become a larger percentage of the population and – more importantly – a larger percentage of the electorate throughout Texas, many predict that Texas’ days as a reliably Republican state are numbered.

How and why do Texans participate in politics?

License and Attribution

CC LICENSED CONTENT, ORIGINAL

Voting and Political Participation in Texas: Introduction. Authored by: Andrew Teas. License: : CC BY: Attribution