Lost in all the hullabaloo over the presidential election is what happened in Texas. Behind the numbers lie some intriguing revelations about the current state of Texas politics.
Party loyalty in South Texas isn’t what it used to be. George W. Bush won 230 of Texas’ 254 counties, 63 more than Bob Dole in 1996. He won such traditional Democratic strongholds as Travis and Bexar counties. Even an analysis of the border counties that Bush lost shows him making inroads: In El Paso, for instance, the number of voters choosing the Democratic candidate for president was virtually unchanged from the last election, while Bush picked up more than 14,000 additional voters. In Webb County (Laredo), the Democrats actually dropped 800 voters between the 1996 and 2000 elections, while Bush polled 8,300 more votes than Dole. Exit polling by the San Antonio-based William C. Velásquez Institute says that Bush won 33 percent of the Hispanic vote statewide, more than doubling the percentage of Hispanics voting for Dole in 1996. Statewide, the number of Texans voting for Al Gore was 26,000 below the number who voted for Bill Clinton four years ago. (Yes, Ralph Nader won more than 138,000 votes this year, but Ross Perot got 378,000 in 1996.)
The suburbs are more Republican than ever. The number of registered voters in the ‘burbs has exploded in the past eight years: Collin County, north of Dallas, is up from 153,000 to 296,000, while Williamson County, north of Austin, is up from 72,000