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Texas Politics - Political Parties
split-ticket voting
7.    The Future of Party Politics in Texas

We close our discussion of Texas political parties by examining briefly four sources of dynamism in the state that will continue to cause changes in patterns of party allegiance among Texans. These areas are:

7.1    Split-ticket voting

Changes in split-ticket voting in Texas reflect the steady increase in party competition in the state from the top to the bottom of the ballot. A voter "splits a ticket" when he or she chooses Republicans for some offices, Democrats for other offices, and perhaps members of another party for yet other offices.

Split ticket voters in Texas traditionally have been likely to vote Republican for national offices (Presidency and Vice-Presidency) and Democrat for state-level offices. This national-state pattern assumed more of a state-local character during the 1990s. Voters might choose a Republican for Governor or other statewide office, but vote for Democrats for other offices farther down on the ballot, especially their district's member of the Texas House of Representatives.

Republican control of state government and the resulting influence of the Republican Party have undermined even this lingering Democratic advantage. The election of a Republican majority in the Texas House in the 2002 elections, despite an earlier redistricting that protected many incumbents, signaled that Republican gains in the state were eroding traditional Democratic advantage, particularly in rural areas. The subsequent redrawing of legislative maps in 2003 and the continuing decline in Democratic party identification put an end to the Democratic dominance that had long been a feature of Texas politics. Democrats rebounded with victories in state legislative districts with changing demographics in 2006 and 2008, buoyed by high Democratic turnout in the presidential election. But the Republican advantage in party identification remains a significant obstacle for Democrats in the current political environment.

Texas Politics:
© 2009, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
3rd Edition - Revision 117
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