Texas Republicans push to change election laws as voters diversify
Republicans in the Texas Legislature are set to pass a series of new voting restrictions, and they justify it using allegations of widespread electoral fraud.
Opponents of the bills, and some experts in voting behavior, say it is an attempt to suppress the votes of black and brown voters – people more likely to vote Democrats.
“For Republicans to really prevent what’s happening on the road, unfortunately they’re positioning themselves to go back to Jim Crow, basically,” political scientist Michael McDonald told CNN.
The new US Census voting data provides a little clue about “what’s to come” in Texas.
Overall, the Lone Star State saw a significant increase in the vote from 2016 to 2020. Despite a long-held belief among Democrats that Texas was not a Republican state but a “State of low participation rate”, all of the state’s Republican candidates won in 2020, although former President Trump got the closest presidential result since 1996.
Part of the story is that the two colored voters and White voters increased their numbers in 2016.
Pieces of pie
The white share of the electorate declined slightly in 2020, to 57.1% from 58.9% in 2012. Hispanic voters in 2020 represented more than a quarter of all people who voted.
But the increase in the Hispanic vote has not been a steady, steady rise. The 2016 election saw Hispanic and black voters decline somewhat as a percentage of the electorate. Asian voters, meanwhile, have steadily increased their share in each presidential cycle, to around 4% of the electorate in 2020.
Exit from the vote
One area where the trend is more consistent is the percentage of eligible voters who actually vote in the presidential elections in Texas. Hispanic, white, and Asian voters all increased their turnout from 2012 to 2016, and then again from 2016 to 2020.
Black voters saw their turnout decline in 2016, but rebounded somewhat in 2020.
These charts don’t reveal an inevitable road to Democratic victory in Texas, especially after a surprisingly strong GOP performance in heavily Latin American South Texas in 2020. Yet an analysis of this all-state census data by Brookings showed that white voters did not graduate from college taking up a declining share of the electorate, including in Texas. These voters favor Republicans.
“The underlying demographics of the country’s electoral population show that Democratic-leaning electoral populations are increasing in both fast-growing and slow-growing areas of the country,” wrote William H. Frey, senior researcher at Brookings and author of the study. .