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The Fort Bend blue wave

Let’s not forget that what happened in Harris County happened in Fort Bend, too.

KP George

Across the state, the “blue wave” that had long been a dream of the Democratic Party faithful failed to materialize in Tuesday’s midterm elections, with Republicans sweeping every statewide office for the 20th consecutive year, albeit by closer-than-expected margins.

But in Fort Bend County — the rapidly growing suburb southwest of Houston often heralded as a beacon of diversity — Democrats had their best election day since the political power base in Texas shifted from Democrat to Republican decades ago.

Political analysts attributed the near sweep in part to the county’s growing diversity, which also was reflected in the backgrounds of some of the winners: Middleton, who defeated Republican Cliff Vacek, is African-American, and Democrat KP George, who unseated longtime County Judge Robert Hebert, was born in India.

[…]

In Fort Bend County elections Tuesday, Democrats ousted Republican incumbents for county judge, Precinct 4 commissioner and district clerk. Middleton won the open district attorney race, and all 22 Democrats who ran for judicial positions — state district courts, appeals courts and county courts-at-law — prevailed; the lone Republican victor was opposed only by a Libertarian candidate.

Fort Bend County voters favored Democrats over Republicans for every statewide office on the ballot except governor. And even in that race, Gov. Greg Abbott, who won 56 percent of the statewide vote over challenger Lupe Valdez, managed only a slim plurality in Fort Bend County, besting Valdez by a mere 720 votes out of more than 250,000 cast.

Only in legislative campaigns did the Democrats fall short. Sri Kulkarni, who failed in his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Olson in the multi-county 22nd Congressional District, lost in his district’s portion of Fort Bend County by 5 percentage points, roughly the same as the district-wide margin. Republican state Reps. Rick Miller and John Zerwas defeated Democratic challengers.

I agree that Fort Bend’s diversity played a big role in the result, but Fort Bend has been very diverse for years now. Democrats have come close before – Barack Obama got 48.50% in Fort Bend in 2008 – but they were never quite able to break through. This was the year it all came together, and I’d say it was a combination of demography, voter registration, Betomania, and the same disgust with Donald Trump from college-educated voters as we saw in Harris County and pretty much everywhere else. None of this really a surprise – we saw what was happening in Commissioners Court Precinct 4 in 2016 – but it still feels a bit unreal that it actually happened. The suburbs have long been the locus of Republican strength in Texas. That’s not true any more, and I think it’s going to take us all a little time to fully absorb that. In the meantime, I know some very happy people in Fort Bend right now. KUHF has more.

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8 Comments

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    Based on pcts that are primarily Latino, the Republicans may have received 20% of the votes here in Harris County, with Abbott getting about 23%.

    The Gulfton area had nearly 40% turnout, that would be Sharpstown Democrats that worked that area. The percentage voting Democrat was similar to the east side and north side Latino areas of Houston.

  2. Mainstream says:

    The problem with only looking at overwhelmingly Latino precincts to analyze the percentage of Hispanics who voted for Abbott is this: Latinos who live in Kingwood and River Oaks and West U may have different political preferences than those who live in the wards/barrios/Gulfton and have different income, education, religious, and social characteristics.

    I will wait for some exit polling or political scientists to analyze the data, but I will be surprised if Abbott got less than 40% of male Hispanics and less than 35% of female Hispanics statewide.

    The only caveat is that young Latinos appear to have come out in force for Beto, and they may have voted more heavily straight ticket D than I am aware.

  3. Manny Barrera says:

    Well mainstream, let us separate the Cubans and the Venezuelans as they tend to be white with Spanish last names. We can just wait for Starr County, you has rich and poor people with Spanish last names and see how they voted. Very few Cubans and Venezuelans down there.

    How many Latinos do you think live in River Oaks and West U? Exit polling, you mean they will be calling those River Oaks Latinos and asking them how they voted? What exactly is a political scientist, is that like a real scientist? Or is it someone that wants to pretend that their data is like science? If that were the case we would not need to wait for election results.

    The Republicans are losing the Latinos, the evangelicals are the only thing that is making it 20% cause most Catholics don’t give a hoot what the Church says. I still can’t get over being asked by one of the evangelicals if I was a Christian or a Catholic. In fact it happened again a couple of weeks ago.

  4. Manny Barrera says:

    it has rich and poor

    How do you make people that think Catholics are Christians comprehend even more difficult subjects.

  5. Manny Barrera says:

    Catholics are not Christians

    I need to read what I write, but I read what I was thinking, when I review immediately after writing

  6. Greg Wythe says:

    I’ll challenge Mainstream’s point about Latino voters in the wealthy suburbs: If you believe that those Latinos are in the 35-40% GOP territory, then the algebra would strictly dictate that Anglo voters in those areas are trending more favorably toward Democrats. We really don’t need an exit poll to determine this. A straight-line regression analysis puts Latino voters in the 25% range for pre-Trump GOP (with several outliers that warrant more research).

    I would acknowledge more disparity between urban Latino voters and those in, say, West Texas. And possibly even some disparity with South TX Latinos. But there’s no algebraic formula that suggest voters tilt increasingly toward Dems while Latino voters more toward GOP without either off-the-charts demographic gains by Afr-American voters or Anglo voters inching more toward Dems.

  7. Mainstream says:

    Greg, you may be right, but I will await more study. I did see a map indicating an R shift in some of the counties in the Valley in the most recent election, which ran contrary to my expectations. Also, the canvass seems to be showing relatively low African-American turnout in 2018, but I am unclear whether this is because those precincts have less accurate voter rolls and/or greater mobility than other precincts, or whether in the absence of a high-profile African-American candidate, turnout was indeed flat.

  8. Manny Barrera says:

    Mainstream there was uptick for Cruz in the valley, but that is probably the bird of a feather phenomenon. Going back and looking at 2014 and 2016 races, every time there was a Spanish last name the percentage went up.

    Like white guys, Republicans, voting for white guys. Or white guys voting for Emmett.