From Politco 7/18:
When Barack Obama asserted Tuesday that Texas will be a swing state “soon,” he was echoing the belief, commonly held among Democrats, that the state’s changing demographics make the transition from red to blue inevitable.
Howard Dean was so confident of it that in his 2009 farewell speech as DNC chairman he said he could “guarantee” that Texas would vote for Obama in 2012.
While that prediction is likely to be pretty far off the mark in November — and perhaps for a few more years to come — if the demographic trendlines continue in the same direction, it’s only a matter of time before the GOP’s 38-electoral-vote presidential cornerstone slips from its grasp.
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Before Republicans scoff at Obama’s prediction, I would direct them to peruse my June column in TEXAS MONTHLY that featured an interview with Republican state party chairman Steve Munisteri, in which he told me that he considers Texas a swing state, not a red state. The reason, of course, is demographics. The Republican base is aging. The average age of the party’s donors is 70. The average age of the 18,000 GOP state convention delegates was 58. The factory that makes white folks has been mothballed.
The 2010 census foretold the future: Hispanics accounted for 65% of the state’s 25 million new residents over the decade 2000-2010. The anglo population increased by just 4.2%. If Republicans are to continue their dominance of Texas politics, they must improve their outreach to Hispanic Texans, which was nonexistent before Munisteri became party chairman.
But there are factors that militate against Obama’s prediction becoming true. One is that, unlike Hispanics in other southwestern states, Texas Hispanics do not vote in large numbers. Why this is so remains a mystery. But this is not true in California or New Mexico or Colorado. While Democrats dream of a “brown wave” sweeping over the state some day, the fact is that many Texas Hispanics embrace what might be considered, in today’s politics, Republican values of faith, family, and patriotism. In short, I agree in part with Obama’s prediction, and I disagree in part. What I agree with is that Texas is destined to evolve into a swing state. What I disagree with is that it will happen soon. Perhaps by 2020.