When many Texans look at our state, they either think it will remain a conservative stronghold for many years to come or that it is on the verge of switching blue. However, with many new demographic changes in Texas, there will be great shifts in the support bases for the major parties in the state. Due in part to these demographic changes, Texas remained a strong red state in 2020, which ended up giving a majority of votes to incumbents former President Donald Trump and Senator John Cornyn.
Similar to the elections in Florida, the demographic changes of Texas have helped to bolster support for the Republican party. This new support could be seen clearly in the Rio Grande Valley. Trump made massive inroads with the local population along the Rio Grande, which had not voted Republican since 1976. Although the Republicans did not win most of the counties in the valley, they drastically decreased their margin of defeat. For example, in 2016, Democrats won Starr County by sixty percentage points, whereas in 2020, Democrats only won this same county by a mere five percent. Changes like the ones in Starr County are great news for Republicans, as it means their support is strengthening in a state they almost certainly need in order to win in future presidential elections.
The biggest reason Republicans are making progress in areas like the Rio Grande Valley is because of support from Latinos. With around 28 percent of the voter population in Texas being Latino, this community's vote has long been sought after by Republicans. Even so, until recently, Republicans could not get a sizable amount of Latino voters to support them. The strong Democrat support from Latinos changed in the 2020 elections when Latinos were attracted to the platform of Donald Trump.
One of the big appeals Trump had to Latino voters was his anti-socialist stance. There is no denying Trump managed to put Joe Biden in the same category as people like Bernie Sanders for many voters. Because of Trump's ability to tie Biden to the more fringe elements of his party, many voters in Texas who were more attracted to capitalism voted Trump. If future Republicans in the state follow a similar platform, I have no doubt they will continue to keep this support from both Latinos and working class white voters.
Although Republicans are managing to diversify their voter base in Texas, there is still hope for Democrats. In the 2004 elections, Republicans managed to win the state by 22.9 points, whereas in the 2020 election, Trump was only able to win by 5.8. Based purely on the trends, it would appear that Texas is inching ever closer to finally flipping blue. This trend is also supported by the 2018 midterm elections. In these midterms, the Senate race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke was razor thin. In the end, Cruz inched out a victory of merely 2.6 points.
The biggest reason for this tight Senate race was the platform and rhetoric of O’Rourke. While he ran on a far less moderate platform in his 2020 presidential bid, in 2018, he was seen as a moderate by many in the Democratic party. Because of his push for less radical ideals, many traditional Texan Democrats responded well to him. If in the coming elections Democrats in Texas run on a similar platform as O’Rourke’s 2018 platform, then they might manage to flip Texas blue.
Whether or not Texas manages to turn blue or stay red will largely be up to the policies on which each party will run. If Republicans want to hold onto the state, they will need to bolster their support within the Latino community. Democrats, conversely, will need to turn away from the fringe elements of their party and run a campaign similar to that of O’Rourke’s in 2018. However, with the increasing number of Democratic-Socialists in the Democratic party, it will become easier for Republicans to win future Presidential elections in Texas. As long as Republicans keep with their anti-socialist stances on issues, it is likely Texas will remain a Republican stronghold for years to come. Despite this, if the Democrats can manage to find the right moderate candidate it could be enough to give them a win in Texas.
Bryce Robinson is a business administration sophomore and opinion writer for The Battalion.