Changes are coming, and the rise of Latinos in Texas could put the state in play for Democrats by the middle of the next decade, according to some analyses. But three main points, in particular, are keeping Texas deep red and should continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Latino voting rates. The demographics of the Lone Star State suggest irresistible change. The 2010 Census showed that 45 percent of Texans are white, 38 percent are Latino, and 11 percent are black, with other ethnic groups making up the remaining 6 percent. A decade before, the white-Latino split was 53 to 32 percent. White Texans, already no longer a majority, will soon no longer even be the plurality.
But that doesn't mean Latinos are having a proportionate impact on Texas politics. As in other states, Latinos typically pack less punch at the ballot box than the numbers suggest they should. One reason cited in an analysis by the Daily Kos, a liberal website, is that 10 to 15 percent of Texas Latinos are not citizens. The Latino population also trends much younger than the white population, meaning a larger share of Texas Latinos have not yet reached voting age.
The result is that, while a Latino plurality in Texas might not be far away, the political effects of that shift might lag significantly. The Daily Kos analysis concludes that, for Democrats, "Texas ought to be on the cusp of competitiveness by 2024."
Redistricting. Redistricting is the great political hammer in the hands of the political majority. In states that allow the Legislature to draw up the political maps every 10 years – as Texas does – the majority can solidify their hold on power by creating districts that tilt in their favor. Both parties do this, and for a time, redistricting can insulate a majority party somewhat from demographic changes.