When newly elected Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz openly worried about his state shifting purple — or even blue — in the near future, he was giving voice to Democrats’ bullish hopes of expanding the map in 2016.But that won’t happen unless Democrats are willing to work for traditionally red states, something they have shown little political inclination to do so far.
Forrest Wilder, a political reporter at the Texas Observer, has seen stories about Texas “going purple” for at least five years. He has yet to see any evidence that it’s happening. Since 1996, he noted in a conversation with Business Insider, Texas Democrats are 0 for 100 in statewide races. Republicans’ margins of victory are still as big as ever.
Wilder thinks Cruz’s strategy is simply sounding the horn to a larger problem of the Republican Party.
“I think what Cruz is doing is trying to scare Texas Republicans into getting their butts in gear,” Wilder told Business Insider. “He knows that they can’t continue to win elections by just appealing to white voters.”
The Latino population has exploded over the past 10 years in Texas. More than 38% of Texans are now of Latino or Hispanic descent, according to a 2011 U.S. Census estimate.
There were no exit polls taken in Texas this election, but an “Election Eve” poll from the firm Latino Decisions found that Latinos in Texas had split their vote 70-29 in favour of Obama. The firm estimated that Latinos made up 26.6% of the electorate in Texas, up 6.6% from 2008.
But there are two problems with the theory that an increase in Latino population will turn Texas purple.
- First, Wilder said Democrats are simply “expecting them to show up magically” at this point.
- Secondly, with Republicans like Cruz starting to point out the party’s troubles with Latino voters and soften the party’s message on issues like immigration.
“There’s a window of opportunity” for Democrats in Texas, Wilder said. “But it’s closing.”
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