First, go read what Greg has to say about the San Antonio federal court’s logic in drawing the districts that it did. I tried to get at some of this in this post, but he digs in and says it in greater detail and with more clarity. Check it out.
Second, something I meant to mention in this post but didn’t get to was the reason why Democrats are farther behind in terms of legislative caucus size now than ten years ago: We don’t have any rural members any more. Specifically, there are no rural Anglo Democrats. After the 2002 election, there were ten Anglo Democrats from rural districts. All are gone now – Chuck Hopson and Allan Ritter switched parties, Robby Cook did not run for re-election in 2008, David Farabee didn’t run for re-election in 2010, and the others (Stephen Frost, Mark Homer, Jim McReynolds, Patrick Rose, Joe Heflin, and Jim Dunnam) were all wiped out in 2010. Of these ten districts, two are at least somewhat competitive now and should be more so in the future – Cook’s HD17 and Rose’s HD45 – mostly because they’re evolving into suburbs of Austin, as HD17 is based in Bastrop and HD45 is anchored in Hays County. One other rural district is majority Democratic now based on 2008 data, and that’s HD54, based in Killeen, currently held by Republican Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock. I’m not going to say that no other rural district will ever be on the radar for Democrats – I believe 2014 could be a very tumultuous year after another session with an eight-figure budget deficit and a looming Supreme Court ruling on school finance, and these factors could make any district competitive – but the road forward for Democrats is urban and suburban, where the population and the diversity are increasing. But the loss of these districts, without which the Dems could not have come within one seat of attaining parity in 2008, means the hole is deeper and the climb is steeper.
(To be fair, the long term trends in rural areas are the same as everywhere else in the state, which is to say increasingly Hispanic. Many rural counties would have lost population over the last decade, or lost more population than they did, without growth from Hispanics. I’m just talking about the next ten years; whatever changes these population shifts bring to rural areas will take a lot longer than that to be realized.)
Anyway, just a couple more things to add to what has already been said as we wait for SCOTUS to take action. Feel free to add your own in the comments.