By Anthony Champagne and Edward J. Harpham, The University of Texas at Dallas, and Jason P. Casellas, University of Houston
Texas has undergone a startling political transformation in the twenty-first century. From the end of Reconstruction until the early 1990s, Texas was a one-party Democratic state dominated by conservative business leaders. By the end of the twentieth century, an increasingly ascendant Republican Party began to assert itself, eventually taking control of both houses of the legislature in 2002. Since then, Republicans have consolidated power in all statewide elections and continued to control the legislature. The Texas Republican Party assumed a major role in national political affairs, becoming during the Trump years a central focus of conservative efforts to influence the country’s national agenda. However, is change in the wind? A high-tech economy geared to world markets is fueling economic expansion, pushing major urban areas into traditional rural settings. The Latino population in Texas continues to grow rapidly, reconfiguring the political demography of the state. A major political question is whether Republicans can secure enough conservative Latino votes to consolidate their power for another decade. Democrats now control the major cities and counties in Texas, using an urban and even suburban base to challenge the hegemony of a rural-based Republican Party.