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Texas Politics - Political Parties
party system
3.    History and Politics: Political Parties and Party Systems

The history of political parties in Texas is marked by numerous tumultuous periods of struggle among competing groups and interests. These include a struggle for independence from Mexico, Civil War within the United States, the contentious post-Civil War Reconstruction period, a long and relatively stable (if undemocratic) post- period, a fractious struggle for civil rights for African-Americans, and a post-civil rights period of party transformation and apparent consolidation.

Over the period since initial statehood in 1845, the constituencies and ideologies of the two major parties we know today have experienced profound transformations. The Republican Party didn't even exist in the United States until just before the Civil War, and barely existed in Texas and the rest of the former Confederacy for several decades after Reconstruction. The Democratic Party evolved from a party closely identified with white racial supremacy to a coalition of groups that included African Americans and ethnic minorities, while the Republican Party slowly gained majority status as a home for social conservatives. Both parties today remain economically conservative, resisting tax increases and regulations on business, while promoting government support of business initiatives.

Although the two major national parties have dominated electoral politics in the state, Texas also has spawned significant third parties that affected national politics. The Populist Party existed from the 1880s to the 1910s and played a significant role both in the state and at the national level. More recently, Dallas billionaire H. Ross Perot founded the Reform Party in the early 1990s. Other parties that have enjoyed the support of a small but dedicated number of citizens in the state include the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. In the 2008 election the Libertarian party received just .7 percent of all votes cast in the presidential election. However, other candidates for statewide office received as much as 20 percent of the vote and in both 2008 and 2010 their candidates effected the outcome of a number of races. In the 2012 presidential contest, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson received 1.1 percent of the Texas vote. The Green Party also succeeded in qualifying for the 2012 ballot as a result of their performance in 2010.

Texas Politics:
© 2009, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
3rd Edition - Revision 115
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