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Texas won’t flip blue, right?

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Photo via Wally Gobetz/Creative Commons/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

It has been nearly two decades since the Democrats held a majority in the Texas state legislature, but there is a chance that could change with the upcoming general election. 2020 has certainly been an unpredictable year. So sure, why not not entertain the idea of the biggest political upset in the state’s recent history? 

There are 150 seats in the state House. Currently, 67 of those seats are held by Democrats. In 2018, 12 Democrats managed to flip Republican-held seats. To gain a majority this year, they only need to pick up nine seats. Texas Democrats say they have targeted 22 seats they believe to be competitive. All of these targeted seats were won by 10 points or less, leading the Democrats to believe that with enough money and a “can do” attitude, they could take them. Currently there are three Republican held seats that are considered toss-ups and two Republican seats that lean Democratic. That comes out to only five seats. However, there are an additional eight seats that lean Republican, meaning that Democrats would only have to pick up half of those more contentious seats. While unlikely, this is not completely outside the realm of possibility. 
The implications of a Democratic-led state house are important because whoever has the majority in the House gets to take charge of the redistricting process. With the completion of the 2020 census, Texas lawmakers will get in touch with their creative sides by going to the drawing board to propose a new district map for the entire state.

If the Democrats get control of the state legislature, they would push for districts to be redrawn in a way that is favorable to their party for the next 10 years before the 2030 census occurs and the districts can be redrawn again. Basically, they would do everything in their power to have new districts that would heavily favor democratic candidates for future elections. However, the process of redistricting is a complicated one. It is not something that happens overnight, especially if the House and Senate are controlled by different parties, something that is likely to be a reality even if Democrats do take the House. 

The GOP will almost certainly maintain control in the state Senate. This would create a huge roadblock for Democrats. Both houses have to agree to the newly drawn lines for anything to be implemented. With that being said, state Senate Republicans would most definitely put up a fight with a “my way or the highway” attitude in order to make sure the Democrats could not have their way. 

Even if the Biden-led party did pull off a huge upset and take the state House, the hard work for the political party would be far from over. They might be able to compromise with a Repubican-led Senate in order to get a few favorable districts, but I doubt its impact would be overwhelming. 

The chances of Democrats successfully flipping the state House is narrow. The party will probably not be able to accomplish it this election cycle. Nonetheless, Texas, day by day, is becoming more and more of a battleground state. In two to four years, the state will likely be blue once again. 

Current polling has President Donald Trump up only one and a half points. That is by no means a margin that should make Texas Republicans kick up their feet and relax. Considering that Biden is not the most exciting candidate, these polling numbers are indicative of what is to come. Which if you ask this Texas Republican, is the state flipping blue, or as I call it, the dark side (kidding… kind of).

If the GOP wants to avoid an actual case of the blues, they need to do some serious regrouping. A stronger strategy than what they currently have to maintain control of the Lone Star State must be developed.
Sam Somogye is a political science senior and columnist for The Battalion. His column is typically published online every other Monday when not in the Thursday newspaper.

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