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Texas: From Blood Red to Light Purple

By Naomi Zidon

The last time Texas voted for a democratic presidential candidate was in 1976 for Jimmy Carter against incumbent presidential candidate Gerald Ford. Presidential elections after that, for the next 40 years, Texas has voted conservative. For this 2020 presidential election, the Texas presidential polls have swung both sides either favouring Trump or Biden or sometimes ending up in a tie. As of the last polling date before this article, the poll stands 48.4% to 45.4% in favour of Trump. With this close proximity in the polls and constant uncertainty about the results of the presidential election, how did Texas go from blood red to battleground purple?

To answer this question, one has to time travel to 2018, during the midterm elections and during a time when COVID-19 never existed. One of the most talked about senate races was Beto O’Rourke versus Ted Cruz. Since 1990, Texas senate republican candidates have beaten their democratic counterparts by wide margins. In 2018, that was not the case as Ted Cruz only won the senate seat by 2.6%. O’Rourke garnered a lot of votes from major city counties like Harris County, Bexar County, Dallas County, and Travis county. The 7th US congressional seat, mostly based in Houston, switched from John Culberson, the republican incumbent, to Lizzie Fletcher, the democratic candidate. These factors built a lot of momentum for the democratic party in Texas leading to campaigns like “Turn Texas Blue” to be created. Another factor that has led to the “purpuling” of Texas is the increase of interstate movement from California to Texas. By 2018, 86,164 California residents moved to Texas especially to Houston and Austin. This has led to a lot of pushback from the Texas conservatives leading to terms like “Don’t California my Texas”. Even the governor of Texas, Greg Abbot, has pushed back on this movement. Reminding Californians moving to Texas that their “socialists’ agendas” are not wanted in Texas. But the Texas voters’ ideological demography had begun to change.

Even though there is a lot of uncertainty about who will take all 38 of Texas’s electoral college votes, and even though right now the polls lean republican, the Texas voting pool has become more heterogeneous as time passes. This leads to multiple questions like: would Texas remain Red? Would Texas become an official purple state like Maine? Or will Texas swing all the way Blue and become the California of the south? These questions might be answered or might not be answered with the 2020 presidential election.

Naomi is a student at the University of Houston. Her major is English with a concentration in Literature and her minor is Creative Works. During her free time she reads, writes fiction/poetry and she takes part in school plays. She is an aspiring Director. Her favourite music genre is Broadway.
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