The long-delayed results of the 2020 United States Census are out, and they show that America’s population is growing and becoming more diverse. In Texas, along with six other states, non-Hispanic whites now make up less than 50 percent of the population.
In terms of population growth, Texas is also the big winner. Five states have had enough new residents since 2010 to warrant a new member in the House of Representatives, but only Texas has seen enough growth to gain two. If the Census hadn’t been intentionally bungled to undercount low-income and non-white areas, it might have been three new members.
The types of people who now make up the electorate are very important, particularly as the Republican Party works hard to push through restrictions on voting rights and access in a bid to maintain power. The omnibus bill to hamstring voting in the Lone Star State is currently only being held back by the fact that enough Texas Democrats have left the state to deny the Texas House a quorum. Should they return, the bill is almost certain to pass, and Speaker of the House Dade Phelan has vowed not to negotiate any further on the matter.
A more diverse electorate is possibly bad news for the Republicans, as is the manner of population growth in the state. Almost all of Texas’ new residents are in the urban centers, which have increasingly become Democratic strongholds. Austin and Fort Worth in particular saw explosions in population that jumped them two each places on the list of biggest U.S. cities.
“Population growth this decade was almost entirely in metro areas,’ Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the Census Bureau told CNN. “Texas is a good example of this, where parts of the Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas Fort Worth, Midland, and Odessa metro areas had population growth, whereas many of the state’s other counties had population declines.”
Likewise, people of color are responsible for 95 percent of the growth in population in Texas. For every white person who became a resident of the state since 2010, ten Hispanic people did. Black Texans also increased by 500,000, and Asian Texans by 600,000. While whites did not decline, they had sluggish growth of less than 200,000.
Increasingly, the electorate in Texas is non-white and urban, which presents a problem for Republicans. While it’s true that Tejanos do tend to vote more conservatively than Latinos, such as in places like Webb County where Republicans saw significant gains in 2020 among Hispanic voters, in general, Hispanic voters are more likely to be Democrats. This is especially true in urban centers.
In a fair world, the new congressional districts that will shortly be drawn by the Texas Legislature would be in Hispanic areas of Austin and Fort Worth to account for the population changes since 2020. That is almost certainly not going to happen with control of the U.S. House of Representatives only a few seats from changing in 2022. Republicans have little reason to play fair, and the matter will almost certainly be headed to the courts regardless.
“There will be litigation,” Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund told us in January. “The Texas Legislature does this every decade, and every decade we’ve had to go to the courts. Luckily, it has made a difference in changing the outcomes.”