Could things turn for the Democrats in the state as soon as next November?
Republicans have long idealized Texas as a deep-red frontier state, home to rural conservatives who love President Trump. But political turbulence in the sprawling suburbs and fast-growing cities are turning the Lone Star State into a possible 2020 battleground.
“The president’s reelection campaign needs to take Texas seriously,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said in an interview. He added that while he remains optimistic about the GOP’s chances, it is “by no means a given” that Trump will carry Texas — and its 38 electoral votes — next year or that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) will be reelected.
For a state that once elevated the Bush family and was forged into a Republican stronghold by Karl Rove, it is an increasingly uncertain time. Changing demographics and a wave of liberal activism have given new hope to Democrats, who have not won a statewide elective office since 1994 or Texas’s presidential vote since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Recent Republican congressional retirements have stoked party concerns, particularly the surprising Thursday announcement by a rising star, Rep. Will Hurd, that he would not seek reelection in his highly competitive district, which stretches east from El Paso along the Mexican border….
The suburbs are where Texas Republicans are most vulnerable, [GOP Senator] Cruz said, noting that O’Rourke made inroads in 2018 in the highly populated suburbs outside Dallas and Austin, and in other urban areas.
U.S. census data show Texas is home to the nation’s fastest-growing cities, and an analysis last month by two University of Houston professors predicted that “metropolitan growth in Texas will certainly continue, along with its ever-growing share of the vote — 68 percent of the vote in 2016.”
“Historically, the cities have been bright blue and surrounded by bright red doughnuts of Republican suburban voters,” Cruz said. “What happened in 2018 is that those bright red doughnuts went purple — not blue, but purple.