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New Texas Senator Says Texas Could Go Democratic In The Future

Ted Cruz just won a comfortable victory in the race to replace Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the Senate, but he’s already warning his fellow Republicans that  the Lone Star State’s status as a solid red state may not last much longer:

As a senator from Texas, the largest and most important state in the Republican firmament, Cruz has a special role in the post-Romney debate. At the Presidential level, Texas has thirty-eight electoral votes, second only to California, which has fifty-five. It anchors the modern Republican Party, in the same way that California and New York anchor the Democratic Party. But, Cruz told me, the once unthinkable idea of Texas becoming a Democratic state is now a real possibility.

“If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community,” he said, “in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state.” He ticked off some statistics: in 2004, George W. Bush won forty-four per cent of the Hispanic vote nationally; in 2008, John McCain won just thirty-one per cent. On Tuesday, Romney fared even worse.

“In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat,” he said. “If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’ “

 

Cruz may be being just a little bit dramatic here. Even with the changing demographics of the nation, it’s going to take more than just a few years for those changes to be sufficient to make a state like Texas a solid blue state. What’s more likely, at least in the short time, is that Texas will become a more competitive state that some might come to describe as purple, a state where Republicans are going to have to fight a lot harder for electoral success than they have had to for decades now. At the Presidential level, that could happen in 2016, although that seems to be too short a time period for something like that to happen. More likely, this is a change that, if it occurs, we’ll see in 2020, 2024, or beyond. By that time, perhaps the GOP will have changed sufficiently that the demographic shifts that tripped them up this year will be less of a problem.

Cruz is right to raise the alarm, though, because if the time comes that Texas becomes a swing state Presidential elections are going to start getting very, very interesting.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Geek, Esq. says:

    Actually, if Texas becomes a battleground, things will be pretty dull, since the only drama will be whether Democrats get over 400 EVs or get held to 375.

    I don’t think Republicans quite appreciate how much trouble they’re actually in. They’re still telling themselves the reason they lost is that not enough white people voted. Never mind that Obama this year got more votes this year than anyone not named Barack Obama in American history.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Of course it could. And Massachusetts could become Republican. Time is long and politics is short.

    The more interesting question is what the political parties will look like in ten or twenty years. I don’t think either one of them will much resemble what they are now any more than the Republican and Democratic Parties of today are like the Republican and Democratic Parties of the 80s. Let alone the 60s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. Geek, Esq. says:

    Also, for those who think Marco Rubio is going to be able to trill his R’s and win over Latinos:

    Last Tuesday, the Democrats showed some signs of life. Zapata had given me a list of thirteen Hispanic Republicans I should watch on Election Day in Texas. Eleven of them lost, including Canseco. Cruz won, but his margin in Texas was the same as Romney’s, suggesting that he had no crossover appeal to Hispanic Democrats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. Jeremy says:

    @Geek, Esq.: Did Obama really break vote records this year?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Jeremy:

    Leading vote getters, by election year:

    1. Barack Obama, 2008
    2, Barack Obama, 2012
    3. George W. Bush, 2004
    4. John McCain, 2008
    5. John Kerry, 2004
    6. Willard Mitt Romney, 2012

    Note: With votes still being counted, it’s possible Romney will be able to pass John Kerry on that list. Maybe even McCain, though that’s less likely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Brummagem Joe says:

    Texas is going to remain the high card in the Republican hand for a while yet but it hardly matters given the number of court cards the Dems now hold and to which they are adding. With this election the GOP edged noticeably closer to becoming a regional party…..a bit like the Dems in the south before civil rights but without the corresponding Dem strength in the industrial northern states.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. David M says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    With votes still being counted, it’s possible Romney will be able to pass John Kerry on that list. Maybe even McCain, though that’s less likely.

    I think Romney is almost certain to pass Kerry and McCain, if not Bush. There’s plenty of votes left to be counted before the election is certified.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Geek, Esq. says:

    @David M:

    He would need about 2 million to pass McCain–that’s certainly plausible.

    He’d need 4 million to pass Bush. That’s not so plausible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Tsar Nicholas says:

    In ’08 McCain won Texas 55-44. In ’12, however, despite Obama being the incumbent and Romney being a Mormon, Romney won Texas 57-41. Not exactly Exhibit A to the next book by Judis and Teixeira.

    The GOP has a lot of problems, not the least of which it’s own (non-voting) voter base, but Texas ain’t one of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  10. David M says:

    @Geek, Esq.: Romney is at 58.8 million right now, Kerry was 59.0, McCain 59.9 and Bush was 62.0, so it’s actually a little closer than that. Percentage wise, both McCain (45.7) and Romney (47.7?) will get less than Kerry (48.3).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Geek, Esq. says:

    @David M:

    you’re correct–I mistook the current number for him to be 59,005,000 instead of 59,805,000.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. PJ says:

    Lets say that the Democrats pick a popular Hispanic Democrat from Texas in 2016 or 2024.

    I would have really liked to see a Texas exit poll this year, but there wasn’t one…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. bill says:

    only if they keep pushing free stuff for losers, the money may run out by then. of course cruz can promote self worth and real hope instead of the obama version.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  14. suyperdestroyer says:

    I suspenct that Cruz is just pushing for open border and unlimited immigration to make the cheap labor Republicans happy before the Republican Party fads away.

    What is most interesting in presidential politics is in 2016 we may know who will be the next president and will know by the end of the first super Tuesday. I hope that who the Democrats nominate will be very close to the Obama Administration so that the transition will be easy since it will last for so long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  15. David M says:

    @bill:

    only if they keep pushing free stuff for losers, the money may run out by then.

    What exactly do you mean by “free stuff for losers”? Medicare? Social Security? Medicaid?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  16. Facebones says:

    People have been saying that a rising Hispanic population will make Texas competitive for years now. I don’t see that happening in the next couple of cycles.

    538 had a piece about this in September.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. David M says:

    @Facebones:

    Relative to the country, both Arizona and Texas were marginally more Democratic leaning in 2012 than they were in 2008, so it’ll continue even if 2016 is too soon. It’s also hard to know how competitive non-swing states truly are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  18. bill says:

    @David M: welfare, food stamps, section 8 housing, etc.- social security is supposed to be a “retirement investment” , just not so much anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. David M says:

    @bill:

    Social Security’s finances are OK for another 25 years, and then it only needs small modifications.

    TANF (Welfare) is much smaller since the reforms in the 90s, so the yearly spending is around $33 billion. It’s probably not reasonable to assume that can be cut much more.

    Section 8 spending is only $20 billion a year as well, although more people are on food stamps after the recession. Those programs just aren’t a big part of the budget though, and Obama wasn’t campaigning on large increases to any of them.

    He did campaign on not destroying Medicare and expanding Medicaid, but it’s hard to see how those are “free stuff for losers”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0