Texas Demographic Wake-up Call: Conservatism Must Spread to Hispanics or Texas Could Turn Blue

While demographers claim Texas conservatives face a battle royal for the political future of the state, the GOP can be not only competitive but winners on issues important to many Hispanic voters. So, the sky is the limit, if Republicans stick to their core values and aggressively reach out to Hispanics with their message of economic prosperity, traditional values, and school choice. But neglecting this burgeoning core constituency could shut-out Republicans from the White House for generations.

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By Terri Hall l February 15, 2017

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Texas is now a majority-minority state. That means the majority of its population is now non-white. The demographic shift has made Democrats salivate and spurned talk of Texas turning blue with a possible win for Hillary Clinton in 2016 as polls showed Clinton within striking distance of Trump heading into the November election. While that didn’t happen, Donald Trump seriously underperformed in Texas — a supposedly reliable red state.

While many factors played a part in Trump receiving a mere 52% of the vote (particularly a loyal Ted Cruz voting block) compared to other statewide Republicans who garnered upwards of 70%, the Texas Public Policy Foundation Policy Orientation addressed the coming demographic tidal wave in Texas and the threat it poses to the state maintaining its conservative streak. It’s difficult to imagine a path to the White House for any Republican should the party lose Texas’ 55 electoral votes.

Fifty-five percent of Texas’ growth is Hispanic, which is growing more rapidly than California. Republican Governor Greg Abbott received 44% of the Hispanic vote, outperforming Democrat Wendy Davis in the solid blue territory of the Rio Grande Valley, and Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick garnered 53% of Hispanic male voters. Patrick’s numbers are particularly impressive considering he ran against an Hispanic female and used strong border security messaging.

Putting these numbers in the context of the prior presidential election where Romney received 25% of the Hispanic vote compared to Trump’s 34%, it demonstrates Trump’s tough stance on immigration and border security didn’t hurt him too much among Hispanic voters. The liberal press predicted a ‘-uge’ anti-Trump backlash due to his so-called ‘anti-immigrant’ stance on border security, yet that never materialized.

According to Baselice and Associates, 46% of Texas Hispanics identify as conservative, while only 18% identify as liberal. As the statewide elected Republicans from 2014 demonstrate, if conservatives work hard and reach out to Hispanic voters, they do get rewarded. Daniel Garza, with the Libre Initiative and former staffer in George W. Bush’s administration, told the Texas audience that education is the great equalizer. Considering Hispanics make only half to two-thirds the salaries of whites, experience two to three times the poverty rate of whites, 32% do not complete a high school education, 30% do not speak English, and roughly 10% lack a driver’s license, Texas is in danger of being less competitive due to lack of educational outcomes and other barriers to entry experienced by many Hispanics.

Garza emphasized Hispanics need options like flexible education choices. Many are like him and had to work in high school to help the family. Garza is the son of farmworkers in Washington’s Yakima Valley. He missed high school every other day and eventually dropped out because there was no option available to him to maintain his school attendance and still work. He’s a strong advocate of school choice and language classes. Through his work with the Libre Initiative, he helps at-risk Hispanics earn their GED and get the training they need to get into strong work programs and achieve greater prosperity. A strong believer in Republican values, he emphasized that the responsibility to lift the community is at the community level, not through government programs.

Journalist and author Erica Grieder related that education is the key to a productive, prosperous citizen. Garza wholeheartedly agreed and insisted Hispanics are not Democrats at birth, and it’s naive to think Hispanics are a lock for Democrats. He also noted a vast distinction among different socioeconomic groups within the Hispanic cohort that reveals there’s some good news for Republicans. For example, Republicans do better among married and more wealthy Hispanics (those that earn more than $50,000/year) as well as among Hispanic males. Hispanics are also ripe on the issues of traditional values (manifested today through pro-life and religious liberty-related issues) and school choice — two strong issues for Republicans.

While demographers claim Texas conservatives face a battle royal for the political future of the state, the GOP can be not only competitive but winners on issues important to many Hispanic voters. So, the sky is the limit, if Republicans stick to their core values and aggressively reach out to Hispanics with their message of economic prosperity, traditional values, and school choice. But neglecting this burgeoning core constituency could shut-out Republicans from the White House for generations.


Terri Hall is the founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), which defends against eminent domain abuse and promotes non-toll transportation solutions. She’s a home school mother of ten turned citizen activist. Ms. Hall is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the conservative-online-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.