Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Don’t count Texas out

Cyd Rios

The Republican Party has controlled Texas politics for 30 years, the last time any Democratic candidate won a statewide election. This voting trend established Texas as a Republican stronghold and has historically discouraged voter participation in the state. However, as media and campaign coverage increases with the first presidential debate taking place Thursday, voters should not count Texas out. Texans’ voices, including those of UT students, could hold more power than ever.

According to a Texas Tribune report, Texas now has its youngest and most diverse population. Texas’ population grew by 8.3 million in the last 20 years, with 7.6 million residents being people of color. The Latinx population is nearly equal to the white population of the state. Additionally, Texas is becoming an increasingly younger state. According to the Texas Comptroller, it had the second-highest population growth rate in the nation for those under 18.

Texas’ population changes represent a potential political shift in the state. Younger voters tend to lean left, as do people of color. These new demographics indicate a growing population of potentially left-leaning voters who could significantly impact the 2024 results if they show up on election day. 

Prominent issues such as reproductive rights may also attract Democratic voters in the upcoming election. Mark Strama, director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, explains this possibility.

“The abortion issue … may make (the election) very hard to predict,” Strama said. “It’s the strongest reason to believe that the tipping point may be closer because … it increases turnout among women, and women are the best constituency for Democrats.”

Strama said that the decreasing margin of victory in past presidential elections may mean Texas is close to becoming a competitive state. In 2012, Republican candidate Mitt Romney won the state by 16 points. In 2016, former President Donald Trump won by nine points. In 2020, Trump won the state by only 5.6 percentage points. Texans, especially UT students, must vote in order for these trends to continue and the margin of victory to shrink further.

The biggest roadblock for Texas Democrats is the lack of voter turnout in past elections. Jeff Blaylock, founder of TXElects, explains this issue.

“These demographics would seem to favor the Democrats in a number of ways, but all the more democratic constituencies tend to vote at much lower rates than the Republican constituencies do,” Blaylock said. “This is a failure of the Democratic Party and now 30 years to put together a coalition that can actually make the state competitive.”

Due to a lack of fundraising and campaigning in the state, the Democratic Party has been unable to mobilize voters effectively, preserving Texas’ firm Republican ties. In the 2022 statewide election, 9.6 million Texans did not vote, and the results largely favored state Republicans. Strama elaborates on the implications of these results.

“We have not had the financial capacity to have a well-organized Democratic Party in the state,” Strama said. “It really hurts when there are no statewide elected officials. There’s no one to articulate the democratic message on a statewide basis.”

Without a significant increase in voter turnout, Texas may remain noncompetitive. The Republican Party’s hold is sustained by high turnout rates among older, conservative voters, particularly in rural areas.

“This is a very, very red state,” Blaylock said. “Unless something changes at the rural level, or until younger suburban voters become more progressive and actually start turning out at rates that equal some of the older, more conservative voters, nothing changes.”

Population changes and voting trends indicate that Texas is no longer the far-right place it once was. The key to a competitive Texas in 2024 lies in a higher turnout of young people, particularly students. Your vote matters and can impact the political future of the state of Texas.

Register to vote.

Saunders is a journalism and government sophomore from Wheaton, Illinois.

More to Discover