Is there really a chance that Texas will lose its reputation as a Republican stronghold state? In the last ten years, state and national elections have given experts reason to believe that the lone star state’s shifting demographics and increased turnout could be reason to doubt the assumption that Texas will vote red in this year’s upcoming elections.
In 2008, President Obama managed to win in Texas’ major metropolitan areas including Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. He was the first Democrat to do so since Johnson in the 60s. Though Obama lost the state’s overall vote, McCain’s margin of victory was only 12 points. In 2012, Mitt Romney’s margin of victory was about 16 points. Though these margins are significant, the Texas vote had not come that close since Al Gore defeated Bill Clinton in the 90s, and the margin of victory for Republican presidential candidates has continued to trend downward since then. In 2016, President Trump won a majority of Texan votes by a margin of only nine points.
Voter turnout has played a major role in narrowing these margins. In 2008, only about 56 percent of Texans actually voted. In 2012, 59 percent voted, and 60 percent voted in 2016. This year, Texas leads the United States in early voter turnout and 51 percent of registered Texan voters have already cast their ballots! With Election Day quickly approaching, it is imperative that politicos and Republican strategists do not underestimate the changes associated with an increase in voter turnout.
Across the country, get out the vote initiatives have increased awareness about the importance of voting and have made registering to vote more accessible. With so many young people newly registered to vote and annual margin of victory trends narrowing, Texas is showing more and more signs of becoming a swing state. Texas’ 38 electoral votes have been a major asset to Republicans in past national elections, but based on recent voting trends, this may not be the case for much longer. In fact, 2020 may be the year that Texas votes blue.