Texas used to be a deep red Republican stronghold. Recently, however, the Lone Star State is becoming tinged with blue. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) won over Democrat contender “Beto” O’Rourke with an unnervingly small margin in 2018, and recent polls show that the Republican lead is shrinking. Is Texas becoming a swing state? If so, why, and what does it mean?
It is not unusual for a large state to flip its allegiance. Most people may not remember that both California and New York used to be Republican bastions. New York was the first to flip; with a few exceptions, it voted Republican from the Civil War until the Great Depression. Since that time, it has been a mostly blue state, led by the Democrat-heavy New York City.
California had a similar trajectory. Except for the FDR period of the Depression, it voted mostly Republican from the Civil War through to the Reagan years. Afterward, it turned to blue and has stayed that way ever since.
Texas has followed a different path. It was one of the slave-holding Confederate States of America that broke out of the Union and triggered the Civil War. The state, for the most part, remained loyal to the Democratic Party until President Ronald Reagan won with a landslide in 1980, and has remained solidly red ever since.
Now it appears that Texas is inching back toward the Democrats. Why? To answer that question, it may be useful to look at what California and New York have in common, and if we can spot that pattern elsewhere.
Wealth, Urbanization, Immigration
California and New York share the fate of many countries and states. They started poor but with a high degree of economic freedom, low taxes, and minuscule amounts of regulation. As they grew more affluent, they veered to the left and started building an overly large welfare state.
All over the world, those who live in rural areas tend to be more traditionalist than city-dwellers. American rural traditionalism coincides with fiscal and social conservatism and a reverence for liberty. Urbanites, by contrast, tend to be more “progressive.” As California and New York became more urbanized, they also slanted to the political left.
Finally, immigration and demographics have a significant impact on politics. On the plaque of the Statue of Liberty, Emma Lazarus’ poem reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” The problem is that according to scholars such as Dr. Stanton E. Samenow, author of Inside the Criminal Mind, evidence shows that people are often poor because they live in a corrupt and crime-ridden environment. They may yearn to be free, but in the voting booth this often translates into accepting cash (in the form of benefits) from politicians.
New York received its first wave of immigration in the 19th century. Being one of the oldest and wealthiest colonies, it was, therefore, the first to turn blue. California, by contrast, was seeded by settlers who were entrepreneurial in spirit and decided to “Go West!” Only much later did it become prosperous, urban, and a favored hotspot for immigration. It became a left-wing stronghold as late as 1992.
Texas is showing the same demographic trend. The successful low-tax, minimal government regime has made the Lone Star State rich and increasingly urban. It is now attracting immigrants from poorer countries who tend to vote Democrat. Therefore, you should not be surprised if Texas soon turns blue.