How Have The Changing Demographics In Texas Transformed Electoral Politics?
Texas has experienced rapid changes in its demographic composition in the last two decades. Its population size has rapidly increased. It has had a rapid population growth compared to the rest of the nation. The latest national population census in 2010 indicated that the state population has reached 25.1 million (“The Perryman Group” 1). This exponential growth in the country has made profound changes in its political sphere compared to the rest of the nation.
Texas population expanded by 22.8%, which was a higher rate compared to the national growth rate of 13.8% between 1990 and 2000. In the next decade the gap increased even further, with Texas growth being 20.6% compared to national average of 9.7%. In this period Texas accounted for a quarter of the entire growth in the National population. This made the State the second largest in terms of population size only second to California. Notably, this outburst in population size is characterized by an explosion in minority population. Increase in population among the minority accounts for 89 percent rise in Texas population. The number of Hispanic and Black Americans surpassed that of the white population both in terms of numbers and percent changes. However, the number of Hispanic has superseded that of the blacks with 42 percent rise while that of the Black was at 22 percent (“The Perryman Group” 2). Generally the state composition is becoming more diverse. This growth has been fueled by immigrant coming in to seek for jobs following a vibrant economy.
Historically Texas has had low participation in politics by minorities, the poor, and women. Education levels, lack of adequate resources, and language barriers have played a role in their political exclusion. The number of representatives from the minority population mainly Hispanic and African Americans has been historically low in the State. Even with the passage of legislation that can lead to increased participation by these groups like the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act at the national level, political participation by minorities in the State did not change significantly. As previously mentioned lack of adequate resources has played a big role in locking out the poor from political participation. The number of Latinos occupying seats in the legislative arms of government is significantly low. Lack of education, which is common for immigrants in Texas, is also another factor that has contributed to low participation in political process by minorities. Immigrants also find it difficult to participate in the election process because of language barrier. Lack of ability to speak English makes it difficult for them to process information necessary for participation in the election.
Many Latinos Americans are convinced that with the significant rise in the population of the Hispanic groups there will be a significant gain in terms of power. This way they believe that their voice would be heard. Stringent measures by Republicans on immigration rules has also led to a significant gain of the democrats in terms of votes garnered in national election since Obama ascendance to power. The state role in the presidential election is profoundly important. In 2012, the number of Hispanic population who came out to cast their vote in favor of Obama was 71 percent. This makes the state a major determinant of the direction of national politics. Besides, the state has the second largest number of college votes at 38 only preceded by California. Democrats’ performance was better in the last presidential election in the State because the republican candidate hit at the Hispanic by suggesting the need for self-deportation in addressing the problem of immigration. Again, the number of Latinos electorate in the State has increased exponentially and is growing rapidly similar to the growth in their population size. The State is likely to continue swinging towards the Democrats vote because the Hispanics are better represented there as opposed to their low representation in the Republican side. The number of minority population in the state being engaged in politics is rising rapidly.
Given the rapid population growth of Hispanic population compared to that of the whites, it is possible that Texas will experience a significant political change due to these demographic shifts. In the next decade the number of the Hispanic will almost quadruple, usurping growth in the White population. The rise is also likely to comprise of a youthful population something that again would shift the pattern of voting. Again, in the past political participation by the minorities in the State was inhibited by their lack of education and in ability to speak English. This is likely to shift as today majority of the pupils in public schools in the State is made up of Hispanic population. This means that the state leadership in the future is likely to be taken over by the Hispanic population. Since majority of the electorate in the state are immigrants or know someone with immigration issues this is also going to be a major issue influencing their voting patterns. Change due to demographic changes is already being experienced with a large number of the minority groups coming out to vote for candidate of their choice and being engaged more in politics.
“The Perryman Group”. Continued Gains and Growing pains: A Look at Texas’ Population Change Over the Past Decade. Perryman Report & Texas Letter (2011): 1-6.
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