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Texas

texas: Blue Flip

House: 67 Democrats, 83 Republicans
To Flip Blue: 9 Seats

Democrats need 9 seats in the Texas House to gain majority. That might seem like a lot, but it’s not – there are 150 seats in the chamber. Democrats gained 12 seats in the House in 2018, the biggest shift in the House since Republicans stormed through in 2010. Momentum is now on our side.

There are 9 House seats currently held by a Republican, where Beto O’Rourke won in 2018 (in some cases by as much as 60%). Even if we just won those seats, we could flip the chamber. There are other great pickup opportunities too, including in suburban areas where Democrats narrowly lost state house seats in 2018.

Texas is currently a Republican trifecta. Winning this chamber will break the trifecta and provide Democrats with a critical seat at the table for redistricting, so that Republicans cannot repeat the horrible gerrymandering that has kept them locked in to power for decades.

These are ‘last chance’ races: whoever is elected in 2020 will draw the next round of district lines.

Fast Facts

  • Current Control: Republican Trifecta (since 2003)
  • Gubernatorial Election: Not in 2020
  • Length of State House term: 2 years
  • Candidate Filing Deadline: December 9, 2019
  • State Legislative Primary Date: March 3, 2020; Runoffs May 26, 2020
  • Redistricting: Congressional and state legislative lines drawn by state legislature; Governor has veto power over maps
  • Electoral College Votes: 38

Broader 2020 Opportunities

  • Texas is ‘bluing’ – and it has important implications for the presidential election. While Romney carried Texas by 16 points in 2012, Trump’s win was by 9 points just four years later. And since then, demographic and partisan shifts have continued to swing in our favor, as evidenced by Beto O’Rourke’s narrow 3-pt loss for the Senate in 2018, and Democrats’ 12-seat pickup in the state house that year.
  • There is a competitive Senate race (R-Cornyn), as well as a tremendous number of important, competitive Congressional races in TX this year (including TX-22, TX-24, TX-10, TX-21 and TX-31).
  • Working to support TX State House candidates will be instrumental in helping drive turnout up and down the ticket in this historic election year.

Population Demographics

Population

29,472,295

Median Age

34.2

Male | Female

49.6 % | 50.4%

Racial Diversity

White: 74.31%; Black: 12.07%; Asian: 4.69%; Two+ races: 2.62%; Other: 5.74%

2016 Election

Hillary Clinton

Votes: 3,877,868
Percentage: 43.24%
Electoral Votes: 0

Donald Trump

Votes: 4,685,047
Percentage: 52.23%
Electoral Votes: 36

District Lines

In Texas, both congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn by the Texas State Legislature. These lines are subject to veto by the governor.

If the state legislature is unable to approve a state legislative redistricting plan, a backup commission must draw the lines. This backup commission, established in 1948, comprises the following members:

The Texas Constitution requires that state legislative districts be contiguous and “that they preserve whole counties when population mandates permit.”

Gerrymandering

Texas has 36 seats in the House of Representatives, so according to statewide voting patterns 19 of those seats should be filled by Republicans, and 17 of them should be occupied by Democrats. Instead, Texas is represented by 23 Republicans and only 13 Democrats.

  • Texas is currently 51% Republican; a slim majority that seems to be shrinking.
  • Democrat Beto O’Rourke won 74 of the 150 state legislature seats in his 2018 US Senate campaign.
  • The four largest cities in Texas (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin) are consistently blue. Fort Worth, Number 5, tends to vote red, then Number 6 El Paso is blue
  • Most demographic trends are that Texas will turn majority Democratic by 2024, or sooner.

Texas’ congressional and state legislative district maps that were drawn after the 2010 census have been subject to litigation. On June 25, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed a district court decision striking down several congressional and state legislative district maps as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

New Voter Restrictions

from the Brennan Center 2019 Report:

New restriction enacted in 2019: Cut back use of mobile early voting sites.

New restriction in place since 2016 election: Photo ID required if a voter has one, but an alternative will be available for those who present a non-photo ID from a preset list and execute an affidavit claiming to have certain, enumerated reasonable impediments to obtaining photo ID. Reasonable impediment alternative is more restrictive than the alternative in place in 2016.

New restriction(s) in place for the first time in 2016: Photo ID required if a voter has one, but an alternative will be available for those who have a reasonable impediment to obtaining ID.

Restriction(s) in place for the first time in 2012: Curbed voter registration drives.

Background: In 2012, a federal court blocked the 2011 photo ID law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The state then implemented the requirement after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted Section 5 in 2013, and a photo ID was required to vote for the first time in a federal election in 2014.

In July 2016, the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the strict photo ID law discriminates against minority voters, and therefore cannot be enforced against those who lack ID. In August 2016, a federal court approved an agreement that will allow voters with an obstacle to obtaining photo ID to cast a regular ballot in November 2016 after showing one of a much larger number of IDs and signing a declaration. In June 2017, in response to the litigation, Texas enacted a new voter ID law that is currently in place.

A Republican-controlled legislature passed the restriction on voter registration drives and the strict photo ID law in 2011, and both were signed by a GOP governor.

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