Rural Texas lost its population in 2020; now he could lose his political weight
The decline in the rural population while urban centers were booming will likely be a factor in how Texas reshapes its political maps.
Why the U.S. Census Matters
President Trump should give up his fight to get the citizenship question for the 2020 census. What is the census and why does the United States have one? We explain.
Just the FAQ, USA TODAY
AUSTIN – The headline for Texas that emerged from the 2020 census was that the state has continued, and perhaps even accelerated, its streak of decades of population growth.
But peel that onion just a layer or two and you’ll find the title doesn’t apply to more than half of Texas’ sprawling land mass. The fact is, of the state’s 254 counties, 143 – all rural – have seen their populations decline since 2010.
The Texas population explosion between 2010 and 2020 occurred primarily in relatively small sections of the state’s geography: the metropolitan areas of the state’s largest cities: Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin. The rest of Texas got stuck in the mud.
Population decline can economically devastate a community or region: fewer buyers in local stores. Which leads to fewer stores for shopping. Which is leading to more people leaving town to shop, and possibly leaving town for good.
Following: Large counties grow as large metropolitan areas lead population growth in 2020 census
Politically, that means weight loss, in Austin as well as in Washington. And we’ll soon see where that lost weight manifests itself as the legislature starting September 20 plunges into the task of redrawing the boundaries of the Texas House and Senate, the United States House, and the State Board of Education. .
Census data collected by the Texas Demographic Center shows that virtually all of the State House districts outside of urban and suburban centers, and to a less dramatic extent, the Rio Grande Valley, have fewer than the 194,000 people needed for that the 150 districts are roughly equal in population size. .
So let’s say rural Texas now has about half of the House districts. After redistribution, there could be half a dozen neighborhoods less that will have been swallowed up by the metropolises.
Following: The 2021 legislative session was a warning to Democrats: learn to win elections or perish
The first blush could suggest bad news for rural Republicans running in these redesigned, but still likely rock-solid Republican districts in the 2022 election cycle. After all, the 2018 and 2020 cycles showed Democrats were almost running. the table in the rapidly growing urban and suburban areas up and down the poll.
But back to this onion peeling exercise. Although urban-suburban Texas has experienced significant growth, this growth has not been uniform. Data from the Population Center shows that six Houston-area Democrats represent districts of less than 194,000 people. Conversely, five neighboring Republican neighborhoods are overcrowded.
This means the Republicans in the legislature who control the redistribution process will likely look for ways to carve out some, but certainly not too much, of the GOP ridings from their own turf and shoe them into the Democrats’ zones. And that could allow Republicans to topple a district or two. Such a strategy could be replicated at D-FW and Austin-San Antonio, according to population center data.
Democrats, who have their own redistribution map-drawing experts who are ready for a battle to the death to protect their territory, could argue that these suburban Republican districts have no Republican precinct to spare.
Consider that after the 2010 census-based redistribution process, Republicans emerged with an almost bulletproof 95-55 majority in the State House. Just four election cycles later, Democrats reduced the strength of the GOP to 83 by consistently gaining strength in the suburbs.
Following: How the delta variant of COVID-19 ruins Gov. Abbott’s best-laid plans for fall
And it wasn’t just because Democrats had managed to craft a compelling message for what for decades had been a largely white electorate in Texas dormitories. Census data shows that Texas has come to less than 56 people adding even 4 million souls to its population over the past 10 years. Of these, 2.6 million identified as Hispanic or black. Less than 190,000 people self-identified as non-Hispanic white.
It’s no secret that people of color, while not monolithic in their voting habits, anchor the Democratic base.
The data further shows that urban and suburban centers are increasingly diverse while the diversity of rural Texas has remained relatively stable since 2010. Put all the data into a blender and it results in more diverse urban-suburban districts and fewer districts available for English speakers. dominated rural Texas.
Therefore, Republican card designers will need to be very creative to increase their current dominance in the Texas house. Or maybe even preserve it for the next decade.