The fastest-growing counties in Texas were suburban counties near the big Metro areas: Collin and Rockwall east of Dallas; Williamson and Hays, which bracket Travis County on the top and bottom; and Montgomery and Fort Bend, which bracket Harris County on the north and southwest. These six counties experienced growth rates of 55.0% t0 81.8%, the highest of the Census Bureau’s brackets for Texas. Collin, Rockwall, and Montgomery are solid red counties. Fort Bend is in transition to becoming a purple county, possibly the first Democratic suburb. (Obama narrowly missed carrying the county in 2008.) Hays has been a blue county, but the spread of affluent subdivisions suggests a transition to red is occurring. Williamson is solid red in the north but has a lot of blue in the south. East Texas did not keep up with the growth of the state. All of East Texas east of the Trinity had low population gains at best (0.0% to 24.9%), except for Chambers County, historically a sleepy, isolated rural county wedged between Houston and Beaumont. I drove into Anahuac, the county seat, on the return leg of a trip to New Orleans earlier this year, and it showed few signs of economic activity. Apparently Chambers has been discovered since my side trip, because its growth rate was between 24.9 and 54.0%, the second-highest grouping for the state. Chambers was the only county in East Texas–that is, east of I-45 and north of I-10, to post a significant population gain. Growth seldom extended more than one county from a metro area. In the Tarrant County area, Denton, Ellis, and Parker counties, all contiguous to the big county, posted big gains; Johnson and Wise did not. Even on the interstates, the rural counties did not grow. On I-45, Montgomery posted big gains. But the next three counties, Walker (Huntsville) and Madison (Madisonville) increased in population by less than 10%. The suburbs are booming, the exurbs less so. Eighteen House districts grew by more than 30%. The biggest gainer of these belonged to erstwhile Speaker candidate Ken Paxton (79,44%), followed by Callegari (+57.74%), Zerwas (+57.29%), Laubenberg (+51/50%), and Fletcher (+50.56%). Other members with high-growth (+30%) were Eissler, Schwertner, Reynolds, L. Gonzalex, Parker, Crownover, Solomons, Quintanilla, Zedler, Truitt, Geren, Garza, and Larson. Not surprisingly, Rick Hardcastle’s sprawling rural West Texas district showed a large population loss of 31,695. What was surprising was the population declines in Harris County. Hernandez-Luna is 40,256 people short of ideal population. Other districts in traditionally Hispanic areas suffered similar shortfalls: Alvarado is short by 34,907; Walle by 28,362. What is happening? I think it’s brown flight: families deserting the inner city for the ‘burbs, especially the Cypress-Fairbanks school district. A similar story is taking place in El Paso. Marquez and Gonzalez are short 35,070 and 34,922 respectively. Pickett is short by 20,465. Obviously, major demographic shifts are taking place in Hispanic communities across Texas. In Dallas, Anchia’s district is a whopping 50,291 short of the ideal population; Alonzo’s district is down by 35,737. I think we are seeing in Dallas what happened in Houston, and that is minority move-outs from the central city. Dallas has to lose a seat, and it could be the result of the dispersal of the Hispanic population.
Politics & Policy