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Texas Voter History Shows the Southern Shift

From 1872, when Texans began voting for Democrats and Republicans in national elections, the state went with the "Solid South" and racist Democratic Party. Even the nationally popular general Ulysses Grant couldn't win in Texas, despite the fact that federal troops occupied the state under Republican Reconstruction Laws.

By 1952, though, change was evident in Texas presidential races. Even though virtually every office holder in the state claimed to be a Democrat, they began voted Republican in the presidential races. Republican presidential candidates continued strong showings even through the period dominated by Texan Lyndon Johnson. In 1972, Nixon overwhelmingly won Texas. Texans barely gave Democrat Jimmy Carter the edge over Gerald Ford in 1976, but the Republican trend dominated from then to now.

The most racist and reactionary section of Texas voters, previously strong for the Democratic Party of civil-war days, had shifted to the new coalition of transnational corporations, racists, and right-wing crazies gathered in the Republican party. Democratic progressives, who were evident as a force since the days of the "Dirty Thirty" in the Texas Legislature during the early 1970s, saw their party lose the national elections, then the state and most of the local elections. Office holders who had been lifelong Democrats, like the right-wing Senator Phil Gramm, switched parties brazenly, and continued to win as Republicans.

During the 1980s, it was evident that the progressives had taken control of the Democratic Party that the reactionaries had abandoned. But what they took over was largely a hollow shell. They could pass resolutions, but they couldn't win elections. In 2004, Republican George W. Bush buried John F Kerry 4.5 million to 2.8 million in Texas.

By 2006, Texans in some areas showed that they had enough, and elections began to swing back to the now-progressive Democratic candidates. Dallas County, the second most populous in the state, went almost completely Democratic. Houston union leaders began to point to dramatic election victories, such as putting Democrat Nick Lampson into the seat formerly held by one of the worst of the Republican reactionaries, Tom DeLay. In Fort Worth and Austin, Democrats won surprise upset victories in legislative races. Republicans like State Legislator Kirk England of Dallas began switching parties in anticipation of a Democratic rout in 2008.

In March of 2008, the "eyes of Texas," and many others, are upon us!

Statistics from the Texas Secretary of State,

By Jim Lane

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