© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Both Parties And Pundits See Democrats Taking Metropolitan Counties But Abbott Still Expected To Win

On election eve, Democrats and Republicans are feverishly working to get their voters out, especially in major metropolitan counties where voting margins might be as close as 1-2 percent in Texas’ gubernatorial race. But any effort to “turn Texas blue” won’t begin at the top.

Anyone who thinks a decent Wendy Davis showing is a reflection of Texas turning blue probably doesn’t understand the state. For that to happen, change has to occur at the grassroots — in county elections, and other local ones. But a close race between Davis and her Republican rival Greg Abbott in major urban centers could mean  the beginning of a process.

Which is why Houston and other major Texas cities, such as Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio, are getting a lot of attention in the gubernatorial election for being “close races.” 

The Republican Party of Texas Chairman, Steve Munisteri, agreed, and that’s why they’re pulling out all the stops on Election Day.

“We will solely concentrating on hardcore Republicans or people that we know have supported the Republican ticket that haven’t voted. So those people are going to be bombarded with phone calls,” said Munisteri.

He added that in Houston’s Harris County, which makes up one-fourth of the state’s voting population, the top race could be as close as a point or two. However, that’s been the norm in the last three election cycles and Texas has still stayed largely red. The state’s demographics though, are changing and with the Democrats targeting minority voters, that demographic change could matter in the long-term.

Professor Mark Jones heads up Rice University’s political science department. He said while those close numbers don’t mean a win for Davis, they could make a difference to local candidates.

“We tend to see the judicial races and we have more than 70 of them on the ballot in Harris County this election cycle. They tend to swing towards the wave and if there’s a Democratic wave, that means we’re going to look at 70 Democratic judges taking office this January,” said Jones.

He said if Davis was able to win areas like Harris County by one or two points, it could potentially be the beginning of the process of turning Texas blue, one large voting bloc at a time.  But it would not be an overnight phenomenon.