Hispanic surge, metro area growth could reshape Texas’ political future

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks about the demographic change going on in Texas and how that will affect the political landscape.

Staff Writer

When the first Texas numbers gush from the U.S. Census Bureau over the next few weeks, they’ll show a state more diverse and more divided than ever.

“It’s a huge state,” said Dr. Steve H. Murdock, former head of the Census Bureau and now chairman of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University, “and it isn’t just Texas bravado that says the different parts of Texas are very different.”

The 2010 census shows sharp population growth in Texas from 2000 — almost 4.5 million people, the greatest increase in the nation. . .

Dr. Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said he thinks reapportionment will result in two solidly Republican districts — one in the Harris-Fort Bend County area around Houston and one in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“The one here will probably look a lot like Martin Frost’s old district, from southwest Dallas to the Mid-Cities to southeast Fort Worth,” Jillson said. “Certainly Hispanic growth in Dallas has been in the western part of the city, but the Mid-Cities would make [the district] Republican-leaning.” . . .

Given projected growth trends over the next 30 years, shortsighted decisions could render the current GOP dominance in Austin something of a political footnote, the way things used to be.

“The Texas state demographer’s projections for the next three decades show that only 3 percent of growth will be white, and everything else will be principally Hispanic,” Jillson said.

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