The conventional wisdom is that we Texans are Californians in slow motion, destined to seeing our state overwhelmed by coming majorities of minority voters. The reality is a bit more complicated.
To be fair to the conventional case, in 2005 Texas was one of the first states to follow California and Hawaii into white minority status. Those who would proclaim the death of Anglo Texas gleefully report that Hispanics now make up an absolute majority of Texas public school first graders, while the white share is down to less than one third.
Sobering news indeed—but 6.9% of Texas elementary school students are at overwhelmingly white private schools and about 2.3% are overwhelmingly white homeschoolers. (2005 data from the National Center For Education Statistics show 304,170 total private school students in Texas, and a reasonable estimate of the number of Texas homeschoolers is about 103,226; the number of homeschoolers is likely higher but the enrollment of private schools, pulling from the static upper-middle-class white demographic, is probably bit lower or flat.)
Nevertheless, Hispanics will soon make up a majority of Texas children, and probably constitute a majority of births in the state (2006 statistics put their share at 49.6%). So no serious person can argue that theReconquista of Texas is not well underway.
Even so, attempts to draw electoral conclusions about Texas from California are statistically problematic.
The first obvious problem with the comparison is bad news for Texas. Texas' voter demographics reveal that the state has about the same proportion of Hispanic voters (20.1%) as California (21.4%). [Source: William C. Velasquez Institute. Texas Statistics/ California Statistics]. So those who see California as Texas' future are wrong— demographically, Texas is California now.
So why is California deep blue while Texas remains deep red?
Simply, California has an acute white people problem. In a state where minorities flex their muscles early and often to exploit the white taxpaying population, one would think whites would get with the program and start block voting like white Mississippians. But instead California whites exhibit mass insanity—a majority of white males and 52% of whites overall voted for Obama.
In contrast, in Mississippi, 90% of white males voted for McCain, exhibiting near-African-American levels of racial solidarity and block voting.
(Yes, I know McCain was an uninspiring candidate and no real friend to traditional Americans. Most voters, however, did not know this and those who voted on a racial basis would have seen McCain as representingwhite interests. Thus, the McCain vote is a valid statistical proxy for white racial solidarity.)
Texas is not quite as rational as Mississippi, but still 73% of whites voted for McCain—actually showing more solidarity than the state's Hispanic population, who went only 63% for Obama.
So what's wrong with California whites? My hypothesis: many of California's whites, particularly in the northern portion of the state, are descended from Puritan stock. Hailing from the East Anglia portion of England, these individuals seem to have an almost genetic predisposition for what psychologists call altruistic punishment. Once convinced that someone has cheated or been mistreated by others, Puritans will "altruistically" (at a great cost to themselves) seek to right the wrong. This has metastasized to the point where Puritans today vote for political policies that will displace them and their children because A) other white people sometimes mistreated Mexicans in the past and B) other white people once owned black slaves.
As a Southerner, I believe these hyper-moralistic people have caused more trouble in the United Statesthan nearly any other group. But I will refrain from further self-indulgent intra-tribal critique. As the Obama presidency lives up to predictions of effects on race relations akin to a 4-year OJ Simpson trial, there is hope yet—even for Puritans.
So while Texas is blessed with a more rational white population, both states share growing, hostile Hispanic electorates to Republican principles. Using definitive data from the William C. Velasquez Institute, I have compiled two charts showing the growth in the Hispanic electorate in both states. (Here and here).
They show that, while there are variations in turnout, the vote share of Hispanics in both states is growing at different linear paces. The slope of the linear regression line reveals that Texas' Hispanic vote share is growing about 0.3% per calendar year, whereas California's Hispanic vote share is growing at about 0.6% a year. (One interesting fact: as late as 2000, Texas had a significantly proportionally largerHispanic electorate than California.)
So the usual comparisons of the two states, where Texas is seen as a proto-California, are clearly flawed. Texas has a high, slow-growing Hispanic voting population with a rational white population which results in conservative state government. California has a high, faster-growing Hispanic voting population with a crazy white people population, resulting in liberal state government.
(Readers may wonder what's happened to the black vote. Texas has a higher black population, but this is largely offset electorally by California's larger Asian population, making the two states comparable in terms of white-minority voting demographics.).
Some might speculate at this point that differentials in registration and citizenship rates among Hispanic citizens account for the two states' demographic similarity California must have a really high Hispanic population, few of whom are voters or citizens, whereas Texas has many native Hispanics nearly all of whom are eligible voters. Let's test that statistically.
According to the WCVI data, California in 2008 had a Hispanic Voting Age Population (or HVAP, i.e. citizens, legal and illegal) of 8.86 million, about 32.8% of the voting age population. This understates the overall Hispanic proportion because children under 18 are not counted. Texas had a 2008 HVAP of 6.24 million, about a 36% share of the total VAP.
The complete comparison data are shown in the chart here.
Basic conclusions from this data: Texas enjoys not only a more cohesive white population, but also a much less politically engaged Hispanic population. Hispanic voting age citizens in Texas have both lower turnout and lower registration rates. If Hispanics in Texas simply voted proportionally to overall turnout and registration as they do in California, their vote share would instantly expand from 20.1% to 25.1%.
The increased participation of Hispanics in California is not a recent phenomenon. I chart a time series of Hispanic turnout as a proportion of their citizen voting age population here. It reveals no clear linear or accelerating trend:
One hypothesis explaining greater Hispanic (and white) political apathy in Texas: Steve Sailer's theory thatgovernment in Texas matters less. The Texas Constitution only allows the legislature to convene every other year, and all budgets are based on the "biennium". This tends to make legislators more conservative in spending, as it might be two years until they can meet again to fix any revenue shortages. In addition, the state has no income tax and is at the mercy of fickle sales tax revenue for income.
So government simply cannot grow as quickly in Texas as it can in California for these structural reasons. With less to get, there is less incentive for all groups to vote—and especially for poorer demographic groups whose motivation for political involvement is more material than ideological.
So when will Texas turn blue? I have constructed a Texas electoral model that assumes 95% of the black vote votes Democratic, 73% of whites vote Republican and 73% of Hispanics vote Democratic—the long-term average in Texas. (Note that I assume that Texas' white population does not regress, or progress, to the mean of other southern whites, who show more racial solidarity, as I mentioned above. For example, neighboring Louisiana's whites went 84% for McCain).
My model predicts Texas will turn tip Democratic in the 2048 elections.
There are many good reasons to oppose legal and illegal immigration, but averting a short-term political crisis for Republicans in Texas is not one of them. Of course, supporting immigration reform would help Republicans, by increasing white support. But in the short run, it's not absolutely necessary. And, from what I've learned in dealing with politicians, everything is short-term.
Thus, those of us opposed to immigration cannot make a direct appeal to the self-interest of Republican lawmakers. Their self-interest is clearly in kicking the can, getting re-elected and not being called "racist"by the Main Stream Media for seeking to control immigration.
Patriotic immigration reform will only happen if there is direct, angry and demanding pressure from enough Republican constituents—as on gun control and abortion. Otherwise, Karl Rove is short-term rational—as long as the grassroots can be distracted with other issues, like"supporting the troops" in the federal elections of 2002 and 2004.
Our goal must be to stoke the grassroots fire on immigration, galvanizing the aging white population into angrily mau-mauing their representatives on immigration, until, kicking and screaming, Republican lawmakers actually do something about it.
Pat Buchanan has a gift with words. Recently, he floated an analogy that has helped me to define my own life purpose in politics:
"And Tea Partiers now play the role of Red Army commissars who sat at machine guns behind their own troops to shoot down any soldier who retreated or ran. Republicans who sign on to tax hikes cannot go home again."
The same must be true of immigration restriction—and all the other political issues conservatives care about.
We are called to man the machine guns behind our own lines because our cohesiveness as a group, like the Soviets, must be coerced.
Our enemies enjoy the luxury of an ideologically unified and cohesive political army. Ours, however, is a lot bigger, but a lot clumsier.
Hopefully, the weight of numbers will play out in American and Texas politics the same way it did on the Eastern Front.
Ralph Griffin (email him) is the pen name of a Texas Republican donor and strategist.