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Politics

Texas Democrats Had Big Hopes For 2020. Those Hopes Were Mostly Dashed.

Joe Biden signs cover the wall at the Travis County Democratic Party's Southwest office on election night.
Michael Minasi
/
KUT
Joe Biden signs cover the wall at the Travis County Democratic Party's Southwest office on election night.

Lee esta historia en español.

Texas Democrats were hoping to flip six congressional seats and nine Texas House seats this election, while pulling off a close presidential race in the state. So far, it looks like none of that happened.

Donald Trump won Texas – along with its 38 electoral votes – by several percentage points, Republicans were holding on to control of the Texas House, and those congressional seats were not flipping Tuesday night.

Democrats have long hoped changing demographics in the state – especially in suburban counties – would close the gap in statewide and down-ballot races in Texas.

But Jim Henson, a pollster with the Texas Politics Project at UT Austin, said Democrats made some overestimations and some underestimations this year. For one, he said, Democrats overestimated their party’s strength in the suburbs.

“The underestimation was the degree to which Republican interest groups, Republican campaigns, and the Republican leadership of the state made adjustments after 2018,” Henson said.

During the 2018 election, Democrats picked up a whopping 12 seats in the Texas House and flipped two congressional seats. They were hoping a big turnout during this year's presidential election would help win them the nine seats they needed to win a majority in the state House.

Republicans said all along they weren’t worried.

And Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday night on Twitter that he expected Democrats would fall short.

“Texas DID stay Red,” he wrote. “Thanks to all the volunteers & candidates who worked so hard to make this happen. Every statewide race and the Texas House and Senate remain Republican. God Bless Texas.”

Votes were still trickling in early Wednesday for some state House races. Henson said clearer results would provide more information about what happened.

But for now, he said, it’s clear Democrats are further from big wins in Texas than they thought and it's clear banking on demographic changes is not a winning strategy.

“Democrats have needed a reality check on the ‘demographics is destiny’ argument for a long time,” he said.

Got a tip? Email Ashley Lopez at alopez@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.

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