"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

2.24.2008

don't mess with tejas


Can Obama win a state like Texas in the general election?

The question that Texas political scientists and political practicioners have been dancing around since 1994 is whether Texas is now a Republican state, or whether it's a George W. Bush state. If it's a George W. Bush state, then the possibilities for a Democratic takeover sooner rather than later are real. But if it's a conservative, Republican state, then it will be another twenty years or so before the soon-to-be Hispanic majority starts to dominate Texas elections. (Hispanics are important in Texas voting cycles now, but turnout in heavily Hispanic areas tends to be low. This will likely change as Hispanic voters realize their power, and as second and third generation Mexican-Americans grow up learning about their rights and privileges in the voting booth.)

Nobody really knows the answer to this. There's no question that white Texas is quite conservative, and given that it's no longer really possible to be a conservative Democrat in this state, I don't see Democratic dominance becoming reality any time soon. We teach students that Texas is a one-party state; one party tends to dominate our politics for a very long period of time.

Paul Burka at Texas Monthly, however, has some different thoughts. He sees overwhelming early turnout in the Democratic primary as a sign that Texas could go Democratic this fall. And there are some bizarre things going on that suggest he might be right; Collin County (Plano) has had almost 7,000 early voters in the Democratic primary so far this year. By this point in 2004, that number was just over 500.

I respect Burka's opinion more than anyone else in the sphere of people who know Texas and her politics. But even if he's right about this fall, I don't think that points to any long-term trend. Texas is conservative, and it's going to stay conservative until the sleeping giant of Hispanic voting power awakens. It may well be that Texas votes for Obama this fall (although I still think it's a long shot - he ain't gonna play well in rural east Texas), but I don't see this pointing to a real realignment.

Meanwhile, we Texas women will continue to make our own decisions, regardless of what the rest of you think.

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