Can it be that the state that gave us Enron, Phil Gramm, Tom Delay, Dick Armey, and two mistaken wars (Vietnam and Iraq II) is becoming more Democratic? Well, given that Kerry won 64% of the national Hispanic vote and 59% of the Texan Hispanic vote (see www.wcvi.org and emergingdemcoraticmajorityweblog.com for more) the answer is a cautious but optimistic YES.
Check out this little item from Ruy Teixiera:
Texas Turning Purple
Texas reached an historical milestone yesterday, when the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it has become the fourth state in the nation with a majority of its residents in non-white racial categories. Some conclusions, noted by the AP’s Alicia A. Caldwell notes in her L.A. Times article, “Texas Now a Majority-Minority State” (no link):
According to the population estimates based on the 2000 Census, about 50.2 percent of Texans are now minorities. In the 2000 Census, minorities made up about 47 percent of the population in the second-largest state.
Texas joins California, New Mexico and Hawaii as states with majority-minority populations — with Hispanics the largest group in every state but Hawaii, where it is Asian-Americans.
Five other states — Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia, New York and Arizona — aren’t far behind, with about 40 percent minorities.
We might also add that North Carolina has the fastest-growing Hispanic population of any state.
The political implications of this pivotal demographic trend are thoroughly discussed in The Emerging Democratic Majority. Although growth in Texas and other states has been led by Latinos, large percentages of whom are not yet citizens, they will soon be voting in ever-increasing numbers (emphasis added).
Republicans are already reaching out to Hispanics with a range of initiatives, but it is likely that GOP success in winning their electoral support will be limited as long as their major policies are anchored in, well, Republican priorities. Dems are in a good position to benefit — especially if we develop more credible policies that address Latino concerns, recruit more Hispanic leadership in decision-making positions within the Democratic Party and campaigns and make political education in Hispanic communities more of a priority.
Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress.
Yes, Bush won Texas in a landslide and won New Mexico (albeit by the slimmest of margins). Yes, the GOP is trying to make inroads among Hispanics using cultural conservatism as a weapon. But as Teixiera points out, the biggest reason for NM’s and Texas’ lack of blueness is that many Hispanics in these states haven’t been in the US long enough to be citizens. If Dems can hold a group that they have been winning by margins of 3 to 1 or better, Texas can be ours. We don’t need to become little Pat Robertson’s, just don’t be as culturally libertine as, say, Hollywood.
Yes, some Hispanics vote Republican (particularly upper-income ones) but even upper-income Hispanics (and upper-income blacks) vote GOP by smaller margins than upper-income whites. Of course there are also other racial minorities in NM and Texas, and its not as though all whites in these states vote GOP. Go after Hispanic and minority voters and keep those already in the Democrat column, but don’t do a “Nixon Southern Strategy in Reverse” and write off all white voters in NM and Texas.