by Michael Handley
Republicans have held every statewide office for 14 years, the Legislature for 12 years and every state board and agency for 14 years – with GOP appointees overseeing everything from education to health to the environment.
Texans have voted for Republicans for president in each of the past nine general elections. Not since 1976 has Texas gone blue in a presidential election year.
The Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, was the decisive 2012 winner of this consistently red state. Romney rolled up 57 percent (4,555,799) of the 2012 vote compared to Obama’s 41 percent (3,294,440) of the vote. Romney won Texas by 1,261,359 votes this year. In 2008, John McCain received 55 percent (4,479,328) to Obama's 43.7 percent (3,528,633) of ballots cast statewide in Texas. McCain won the state by only 950,695 votes in 2008.
This year, Obama won 50 percent or more of the vote in 25 of Texas' 254 counties, as shown by the counties painted blue in the map picture at top right. In 2008, Obama won 28 Texas counties.
This year, Obama won 50 percent or more of the vote in seven of Texas' fifteen largest counties. In the last three presidential year general elections, the nine largest counties made up between 53-54 percent of the total vote: Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, Travis, Collin, Denton, Fort Bend and El Paso. In 2012, these counties represent 54.37 percent (4,330,888) of the total (7,965,384) Texas vote.
In 2012, straight ticket voting represented 65.3 percent of total votes cast in the nine largest counties with Democrats winning 49.9 percent and Republicans winning 49.2 percent of that vote. In 2008, straight ticket voting represented 59.8 percent of total votes cast in the nine counties with Democrats winning 52.7 percent and Republicans winning 46.5 percent of that vote. In 2004, straight ticket voting represented 60.9 percent of total votes cast in the nine counties with Republicans winning 54.4 percent and Democrats winning 45.5 percent of that vote.
While Democrats edged Republicans by 9,858 straight party votes in the top nine counties, Romney still beat Obama by 1,688 votes in those counties. In 2008, Pres. Obama won Democratic stronghold Travis county with 117,036 votes. In 2012, Obama again won Travis county, but with 92,037 votes, a 24,999-vote loss from 2008. In Tarrant County, a Republican stronghold, Romney polled 850 more votes than McCain did in 2008 while Obama polled 21,312 fewer votes.
The same pattern of 2012 straight party voting holds for the next six largest counties: Hidalgo, Montgomery, Williamson, Nueces, Galveston and Cameron. Democrats won straight ticket voting in three (Hidalgo, Nueces and Cameron) of the next six counties, but Obama topped Romney in only two (Hidalgo and Cameron) of those counties. The top fifteen Texas counties represents 63.4 percent of registered voters and 63.8 of the total 2012 ballots cast across Texas in 2012. (see table below for details.)
With each of the last three presidential elections, Hispanics made up a higher part of the electorate, having made up 8 percent in 2004, nine percent in 2008 and 10 percent in 2012. Texas’ Hispanic voters backed President Barack Obama over Gov. Mitt Romney 70 percent to 29 percent, according to Latino Decisions' ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions 2012 Latino Election Eve Poll.
(More on Texas Hispanic voter participation below, after the 'read more' jump ~ Also see: Pew Hispanic Center's Trends in Latino Voter Participation.)
Sadler got 65 percent of Hispanics’ votes, compared to Cruz, who won just 35 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to Latino Decisions' polling. Senator Wendy Davis' win was highly dependent on the Hispanic vote, even though Tarrant County is the state's only major urban area to go decidedly red. Tarrant Co. went for Romney over Obama 53.2 percent to 45.7 percent with 57.8 percent of the straight party vote going to the Republican Party. Hispanics comprise 27.3 percent of the Tarrant Co. population.
|They Built That! |
The Houston Chronicle
Texas has one of the nation's largest Hispanic populations and it is one of the few states where Republicans have had some success in courting Hispanics, winning as much as 49 percent of their votes in 2004.
Have all of the Republican efforts to court Hispanics in Texas fallen apart in the Obama era? Were Texas Hispanics as sour on Mitt Romney this time as Hispanics in other states? Did they swing further in Obama's direction, as they did in Colorado, or a bit away from him, as they did in Nevada and California? And how did these voters -- mostly Mexican by ancestry -- feel about Cruz, a Cuban-American who speaks with a Texas twang? With no Election Day exit polling of voters, these remain open questions to answer.
In 2012, there are an estimated 3,716,000 18 to 29 year old citizens eligible to vote in Texas. In 2008, an estimated 38.6 percent of young people in Texas cast a ballot with 54 percent of that age group voting for Pres. Obama.
Since Texas age bracket turnout and voting statistics for 2012 are not available, national exit polling may provide some insight on how young Texans voted.
An estimated 23 million young Americans under the age of 30 voted in the 2012 presidential election, and youth voter (18-to-29) turnout nationally was 50 percent of those eligible to vote - 58 percent in battleground states. Turnout was very close to the 2008 national rate of 52 percent, indicating that youth held steady in their participation, once again voting for President Barack Obama by a huge margin.
According to the youth research organization CIRCLE at Tufts University, the battleground states of Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida were essential to the President’s re-election. In those states, if Governor Romney had won half of the youth vote, or if young voters had stayed home entirely, then Romney would have won instead of Obama. Those states represent 80 electoral votes, sufficient to have made Romney the next president.
Voters from ages 18 to 29 represented 19 percent of all those who voted in the 2012 General Election, according to the early National Exit Poll conducted by Edison Research. That's an increase of one percentage point from 2008. More young people turned out for the 2012 election, voting largely Democratic, despite new voter ID laws and challenges by lawmakers against college students' ability to vote, and widespread confusion about state voting laws.
Obama captured 60 percent youth vote, compared with Mitt Romney's 36 percent. Obama's 60 percent to 36 percent 2012 victory among young people is smaller than his 66 percent-31 percent 2008 win over John McCain in 2008. But it is still the highest any Democratic presidential candidate scored in 30 years among 18 to 29 year old voters.
This year, 63 percent (5,020,901) of Texans who voted turned out early, leaving just 2,944,483 ballots cast on Election Day.
While slightly more people were registered to vote in 2012 over 2008, slightly fewer turned out to vote. Interpreting the top level election numbers, it seems likely that it was mostly Democrats who stayed home and did not vote in this election. This lower turnout by raw count and of registered voters is built on a foundation of a smaller percentage of voting age citizens who registered to vote in 2012 over 2008.
While Texas Democrats must focus on greatly expanding the base of active Hispanic voters, they must place equal focus on capturing and nurturing the base young men and women across every demographic group. And, Texas Democrats must focus on mobilizing the large number of voting age persons who never bother to register to vote, as well as, the significant number of registered voters who are perpetually unmotivated to turnout to vote. Texas remains at the bottom of all states, as well as voting democracies around the world, for voting age citizens who register to vote and then actually bother to vote! (The international readers of this publication must think Texas, a bastion of tea party America, to be a very backward democracy! And to conservative readers of this blog -- this is a stern criticism of Texas, not an apology, so save your critical comments - they'll not be approved.)
While each demographic group has one or more issue(s) of particular interest to their community, they all share a common interest in many crucial middle class issues. Issues such as access to quality public schools and universities, the right of privacy to choose their life partner, the right of privacy to choose when, or if, they will have children, equal rights to quality health care without the intrusion of government mandated procedures, such as vaginal ultra-sound probes, a clean environment, a safe and stable banking and financial system, a well functioning safety net for their parents and grandparents, and all the other family oriented issues of common interest to middle class Texans and Americans ~ regardless of their ethnic, racial or religious background.
Democrats must build a 21st century Democratic base mobilization program, blending the same traditional door-to-door canvassing activities with digital online and mobile communication outreach and organization tools that the president's campaign pioneered in 2008 and refined in 2012 to win back-to-back elections. (The Obama Campaign’s Technology Is a Force Multiplier ~ How Technology Turned the Tide in the Election)
Democrats could also take lessons from the campaign of state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, whose middle class family oriented messaging helped build a coalition that lifted her to victory in one of Texas' (and the nation's) most conservative counties.
And that 21st century Democratic base mobilization program must get started now ~ not after the March 2014 primary election!
- Texas Tribune: Interactive Map: How Texas Drifted Right in 2012
- Youth Vote Gap Suggests Republicans Risk Losing An 'Entire Generation' To Democrats.
|Top 15 Texas Counties ~ Straight Party Vote November 6, 2012 Presidential Election|
Trends in Texas Hispanic Voter Participation
The Hispanic population in Texas is the second largest in the nation.4 About 9.5 million Hispanics reside in Texas, 18.8% of all Hispanics in the United States. Texas’s population is 38% Hispanic, the second largest Hispanic population share nationally. There are 4.2 million Hispanic eligible voters in Texas—the second largest Hispanic eligible voter population nationally. California ranks first with 5.9 million. Some 26% of Texas eligible voters are Hispanic, the second largest Hispanic eligible voter share nationally. New Mexico ranks first with 39%.
More than four-in-ten (44%) Hispanics in Texas are eligible to vote, ranking Texas 17th nationwide in the share of the Hispanic population that is eligible to vote. By contrast, more than three-quarters (78%) of the state’s white population is eligible to vote. White eligible voters outnumber Hispanic eligible voters in Texas by more than 2 to 1. Hispanic eligible voters outnumber black eligible voters by about 2 to 1 and Asian eligible voters by about 9 to 1.
A record 23.7 million Latinos are eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. This is up by more than 4 million, or 22%, since 2008, when 19.5 million Latinos were eligible to vote. Due to their ongoing population growth, Latinos comprise a greater share of the nation’s eligible voters than they did just a few years ago—11.0% this year, up from 9.5% in 2008 and 8.2% in 2004.
However, the turnout rate of eligible Latino voters has historically lagged that of whites and blacks by substantial margins. In 2008, for example, 50% of eligible Latino voters cast ballots, compared with 65% of blacks and 66% of whites.