Redistricting happens only once every ten years. But, the demographic make-up of these districts can change a great deal over that decade. In some cases, court challenges force wholesale redraws. But, the most significant changes are those that happen organically, with people moving in and out of districts and states over the course of a decade.
Perhaps no state has seen as much demographic change as Texas. Of the states 36 CDs, 13 of them (or just over 35 percent) have a majority white population. Just ten years ago, more than half (58 percent) of the state’s CD’s were majority white.
Nowhere has this surge in the population of people of color been more pronounced than Texas’ 3rd CD held by GOP Rep. Van Taylor. Back in 2010, this district, which takes in the fast growing exurbs north of Dallas (such as Plano and McKinney), was 62 percent white. Today, Census data shows that the white population has dropped almost 13 points to 49.8 percent. Leading the surge in population growth in these exurbs were Asian residents who now make up almost a quarter of the population in the district — up from 15 percent just ten years ago.
Of the eight CDs that were majority white in 2010 but are not today, all but one (suburban Dallas’ 32nd CD) are represented by Republicans.
Notably, six of those eight districts have gotten much more competitive at the presidential level as well. Or, to put it another way, six CDs that looked safely Republican when these lines were last drawn back in 2012, are now either Democratic-leaning or evenly divided. For example, back in 2012 Mitt Romney won GOP Rep. Michael McCaul’s Austin and Houston suburban district by more than 20 points. Last year, however, Donald Trump narrowly carried it by just 1.7 percent.
GOP candidates in those diversifying CDs have also seen their margins narrow a great deal over these last ten years. In 2012, for example, then-GOP Rep. Ted Poe easily won re-election in this suburban Houston district by 32 points. Eight years later, Rep. Dan Crenshaw carried it by a smaller — though still healthy 12.8 points, a decrease in GOP performance of 19 points.
Texas Districts: Major Changes from 2012-2020
The good news for the Republican Texas delegation, of course, is the fact that Republicans have complete control of the line-drawing process this year. But, as we’ve seen over the last decade, these maps are no guarantee of future political success.