Home | Opinion | Columnists | Markos Moulitas

Minority matters

It’s been several years since white students represented a majority of Texan public school attendees, but it wasn’t until this past March that Latinos became an outright majority. Today, 50.2 percent of the state’s 4.9 million public school students are Latino. Two-thirds of them are minorities.

Without Texas, Republicans won’t ever come close to sniffing another winning White House bid, and yet their unwillingness to adjust to our nation’s multicultural makeup will inevitably lead to a blue Texas. It’s simple demographic math.

ADVERTISEMENT
Between 2000 and 2010, Texas’s population grew by 4.3 million, 88 percent of which was Latino, African-American and Asian. Non-Hispanic whites no longer constitute an absolute majority, making up 48 percent of the state’s total population.

Nevertheless, Texas has remained solidly Republican because of low minority political participation. Mitt Romney won the state by 15.8 percentage points in 2012. But according to an analysis by the Houston Chronicle, if Texas Latinos voted at the same rates as white voters, Romney would’ve won by just 5.4 points. That would have been his second-smallest margin of victory. Similarly, Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzGrassroots battling establishment on trade at conventions Fixing the disastrous nomination process Attacking Trump for the few sensible things he says is bad strategy MORE’s 16-point victory would’ve been just 5.5 points.

Those kinds of margins would’ve made Texas a legitimate swing state and dramatically reshaped the race. Democrats would have poured resources into those races, while Republicans would have needed to shift money to defend their electoral linchpin. If Republicans lost Texas, they could win Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin and still lose the election.

Yet while Texas Republicans were able to coast in 2012, demographic changes aren’t taking a break. Another analysis by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News found that even if minority turnout rates don’t improve, Texas will still reach political parity in 2024 — whittling off 5.5 points from the Republican lead every four years. If Democrats can engineer stronger base voting performance, that date can move up to 2020. And if Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPanetta interrupted by chants of 'no more war' FULL SPEECH: Leon Panetta on defense and Trump Democrats zero in on gun control in Philly MORE runs for president, it could happen in 2016.

“The demographic tides are going to influence Texas,” political science professor Cindy Rugeley told the Chronicle. “Either a Republican will step up and take the lead in making the party more attractive to Hispanic voters or Texas will return to a two-party state.”

While Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has laughed off such analysis, calling it “the biggest pipe dream I have ever heard,” the state GOP is certainly not laughing — and, apparently, neither is the national party. Texas Republicans announced last week that they had received money from the Republican National Committee to hire nearly two dozen full-time outreach workers to court Texan Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians and young people. Imagine if national Democrats were sending money to California, New York or Illinois to shore up their electoral prospects!

Of course, those poor GOP minority outreach folks might have the toughest job in America. It’s hard to convince hostile voters the GOP would be good for them when you have prominent Texas conservatives saying things like, “I’m going to be real honest with you, the Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they’re going to vote 9-to-1 for Democrats.”

Hiring a bunch of community organizers won’t save the GOP. No matter their stated intent, the party’s words and actions will always betray its overt hostility. And in any case, it’s always easier to invent fake scandals than to reorient a xenophobic party toward the path of tolerance.

Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos
.com)