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Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Hispanic Vote in Texas

Our chapters on parties and elections discuss the voting patterns of various demographic groups. New census numbers will be important for many states, including Texas. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Of those 4.5 million new Texans over the last 10 years — about 54 percent from in-state births, 22 percent from other states and 24 percent from foreign immigration — an estimated 85 percent are Hispanic.

That fact isn’t lost on Hispanic leaders, who see Texas gaining four seats in Congress and want their share, said Dr. Michael K. Moore, associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington.

And that poses a particular challenge for the Republican Party, which dominates the Legislature and controls the redistricting process.

“It’s a challenge,” he said, “but it’s also an opportunity.

“Hispanic voters in general vote Democratic, but not as solidly as blacks, and that’s an important point. If you’re the head of one of the major parties right now and you’re working on a 10-, 15- or 20-year plan, a major question is, ‘What do we do about Hispanic voters?’ Because they’re divided depending on the issue.”

On economic and immigration issues, for example, Hispanics tend to support Democrats. But on social issues like abortion, the largely Catholic population sides with Republicans, Moore said.

“So these are important decisions, and Republicans need to find a way to draw four more districts they think they’ll win,” Moore said. “If they can figure a way to draw all four and include districts that will likely elect Hispanic Republicans, that’s even better.”