Everything is bigger in Texas! Or so the saying goes. This is doubly true for elections. Texas is, indisputably, the corner stone of Republican presidential ambitions. Should Texas, with its 38 electoral votes, go blue, the chances of a Republican ever setting up shop in the Oval Office again are bleak.
Let’s put it this way:
If Texas had voted blue in 2012, Mitt Romney could have won the entire Northeast, from Pennsylvania and New Jersey all the way up to Maine, and still lost.
If Texas had voted blue in 2012, Mitt Romney could have won the entire Great Lakes region including Minnesota and Iowa and still lost.
If Texas had voted blue in 2012, Mitt Romney could have won the entire West Coast including California and still lost.
THAT’S how important Texas is to Republicans. There is almost no path to victory without it. If Texas had voted blue in 2000 or 2004, George W. Bush would have lost. This is a weakness unique to Republicans. For instance, if California with its 55 electoral votes (by far the largest chunk of the electorate) had voted red in 2008 or 2012, Obama still would have won.
The bottom line is that if Texas turns blue, or even purple, Republicans are completely and utterly screwed. But that’s exactly what is happening:
Houston is not merely more Hispanic; the fastest-growing ethnic group is Asian. The kimchi taco is a hit. Some 90 languages are spoken. The city government will soon publish information in six languages. And 98 percent of the population growth in the first 10 years of this century has been nonwhite.
This diversity is rippling out to the far suburbs, counties that have long been white and Republican — and vital for winning statewide office. The most diverse part of the Houston region is now Missouri City, which straddles Brazoria County and Fort Bend County on the city’s southwestern edge and is filling with Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans seeking bigger homes and better schools.
The same trends are found in the Texas Triangle, an increasingly dense region bounded by Houston, San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth. It includes less than 20 percent of the state’s land but all its biggest cities. Conservative politicians do poorly in these settings.
The only way Republicans can respond to this is with increasingly more extreme voter suppression laws but even that won’t work for very long. It also risks a massive backlash by liberal and independent voters.
The other problem for Republicans is that, as the minority residents start spreading out into the suburbs, the not-at-all-racist white conservative residents are going to flee. White Flight will decimate traditional Republican strongholds, further weakening the GOP’s grip on Texas.
It might not happen this year, or even in the next ten, but the writing is on the wall: A Republican Party that keeps only pandering to the whitest and most racist of Texans will lose the entire state and any chance of putting another Bush in the White House.