Texas, the Lone Star State, voted in its first presidential election in 1848. For about 100 years, from 1872 to 1976, the state voted Democratic in the majority of presidential elections. But, this changed when the state voted Republican in 1980. Since then, Texas has voted for a Republican each time and has remained a dependably red state. In fact, Republicans currently control all statewide offices, both houses of the state legislature, and have the overwhelming majority in the congressional delegation.
The House delegation in Texas has a total of 36 seats, second only to California’s 53.
The delegation began the 21st century in the 106th Congress with 30 seats and a Democratic majority – 17 Democrats and 13 Republicans. Democrats lost that majority in 2005 in the 109th Congress after the state was redistricted. Republicans currently have control of the House delegation with 23 Republicans and 13 Democrats.
Republicans also have control of Texas’ Senate delegation. In fact, the last time a Democrat even held a Senate seat from the state was when Robert Krueger served in the 103rd Congress from January to June of 1993. The last time Democrats held both Senate seats was in the 87th Congress from 1961 to 1963 with William A. Blakley and Ralph W. Yarborough.
Texas’ recent state elections, including the last gubernatorial and lieutenant governor elections, have also followed the red trend. The Governor of Texas is currently Republican Greg Abbott and the Lieutenant Governor is Republican Dan Patrick. The last time a Democrat held the governor position in Texas was from 1991 to 1995 during the tenure of Ann Richards.
Despite the fact that Democrats have not won a statewide election since 1994, and that Republicans have carried the state in every presidential election for approximately the past four decades, changes in the state’s voter demographics point toward a new chance for Democrats in Texas.
Currently, Texas has 38 Electoral College votes, second only to California’s 55, but a growing population has the state set to gain more electoral votes beginning in 2024. If demographic trends like the growth of the minority population continue, Texas is likely to shift from a solid Republican state to a burgeoning battleground.
In 2008, Senator John McCain beat former President Barack Obama 55.5 percent to 43.7 percent. In 2012, President Obama fell further behind, losing with 41.4 percent to 57.2 percent against Republican Mitt Romney.
In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump unsurprisingly took the state’s electoral votes over Hillary Clinton, 52.2 percent to 43.2 percent. Clinton won in big cities like El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, Austin, and Dallas, but Trump took much of the remainder of the state.
Beto O’Rourke, former Texas Representative, set a record for most votes for a Democrat in the state’s history when he ran for Senate against Senator Ted Cruz in 2018. O’Rourke lost that election, but announced his run for President in 2019.