Chapter 7. Elections: Texas Style


Chapter Summary

Elections in Texas have gone through an enormous set of changes over the last four decades. There were longstanding barriers such as “all-white primaries,” the poll tax, and economic harrassment that made the election process in Texas less democratic. While those barriers were overcome, primarily through federal action, one-partyism persisted throughout the state making Democratic Party primaries more important than the November general election. However, beginning in the 1950s, conservative Democrats joined the growing ranks of Republicans in supporting Republican Party candidates for president. Where Texas was dominated by the Democratic Party for most of the state’s history, since the mid-1990s statewide elections have been dominated by Republians. The party also holds the majority of seats in the Texas Legislature and among the state’s congressional delegation.

While Texas has a long tradition of frequent elections and several races and candidates to choose from throughout the state’s institutions of government, voter turnout has also been historically low. .. In contrast to elections nationwide, elections in the state legislature have become less competitive with the number of uncontested races increasing. Fund-raising and the role of money in legislative and statewide elections have grown significantly.

Review Questions

1. What obstacles to voting were faced by groups in Texas?

2. To what extent is low voter turnout impeding democracy?

3. How might Texas make participation in voting more likely today?

4. Should Texas adopt stricter campaign finance restrictions?