The saga of the Populists and the Alliance presaged divisions in the Democratic Party that would grow during the first two decades of the twentieth century. These divisions fed on issues emphasized by the Progressive Movement, such as the regulation of large corporations and trusts, prohibition of alcohol, and election law reform. By the time the Great Depression set in during the early 1930s, reformists became a permanent force in the Democratic Party. Under the national Democratic Party leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt progressives, unions, and working class voters, as well as traditional, more conservative Southern Democratic voters and elites, were organized into a powerful national Democratic coalition.
In Texas, a recurring pattern emerged in which Democratic dominance was marked by contentious infighting among Democrats while Republicans remained largely marginalized in state politics. Essentially, intense political contests occurred within the single dominant party, instead of between two competitive parties. For most of the period from the 1930s to the 1970s, a minority of reformists in the Democratic Party contended with a majority of conservatives and moderates, who generally retained control of the party organization and of most elected offices. For most of this period, all of the infighting notwithstanding, allegiance remained overwhelmingly Democratic among voters who vowed famously that they would vote for a dog before they would vote for a Republican. Nevertheless, battles among Democrats set the stage for the key developments in contemporary Texas politics: the decline of the Democrats, the rise of the Republican Party, and the emergence of a competitive party system dominated by the ascendant Republicans.