Texas is a land of immigrants. From the earliest days, well before Europeans came, through the present, the territory that became Texas has been crisscrossed by successive waves of immigrants. Even many of the indigenous peoples had migrated over time to the territory from other parts of the continent, while other peoples that were already in the territory moved on or were pushed out. Eventually, unlike most immigrants to Texas, Native Americans were almost completely pushed out of the state as the Texas Politics feature Where in Texas are Indigenous Groups? illustrates.
The Native Americans who came to the territory were followed over the course of several centuries by Spanish, French (via Louisiana), Anglo American, African, German, and Czech immigrants through the 1800s. And, even more Native Americans came to the territory as the Anglos in the United States continued to settle west of the Mississippi. The Texas Politics feature titled Peoples and Cultures of Early Texas provides a summary of the experiences of these peoples and cultures of early Texas.
After the second World War the state's population and economy grew at an accelerated rate compared to previous decades. This growth was fueled by and, in turn, resulted in an increasingly diverse economy and population. In the half-century from the 1950s through the turn of the twentieth century, the socio-economic system in Texas had experienced profound transformations. Newer and larger waves of immigrants came to Texas in this period, including from other states in the northern and eastern regions of the United States.
The contemporary period (the past few decades) has been marked by massive waves of immigration by Mexicans, Caribbean islanders, Central Americans, Asians, and yes, even Yankees (we mean, fellow Americans from northern states). These successive waves of immigration constitute both cause and effect of the changes in the state's economy and, in turn, of the ongoing evolution of the Lone Star State's political culture.
Ironically, the steady migration of people from the northern states beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, drawn to Texas by the expansion and diversification of the state's economy, has tended to reinforce the social and business conservatism of the state, even while it has helped transform the political party system. These northern migrants have tended to be politically active, and their political orientations in general have been conservative. But they were more likely to support the Republican Party instead of the conservative Democrats who had dominated state politics since the end of Reconstruction.
At the other end of the social class system, poor immigrants from developing countries - particularly from Mexico and Central America, but also from Asia - have flooded into the state in recent decades. Meanwhile, the high birthrate of ethnic minorities has contributed to a rapidly growing population. By 2004, the two dynamics - high levels of immigration and high birthrates relative to the non-Hispanic white population - made Texas the fourth state (not counting the District of Columbia) in which non-Hispanic whites represent less than fifty percent of the population. The other so-called "majority-minority" states are Hawaii, New Mexico and California, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rest of this section explores in greater detail some of the political and cultural dynamics resulting from these overlapping demographic transformations. We review the general characteristics of the Texas population, focusing specifically on overall demographics - age, race, gender, income, social well-being and political orientation. Then we take an even closer look at the politics of race, ethnicity and gender in the state.