As I was beginning to follow-up my recent post about our changing national demographics, I almost immediately came upon a state-run website that was rich with data about that particular state. As it happens, it was Texas. So, without further ado, a very quick look at the Lone Star state and its population projections.

You can read lots of stories on the internet about how Texas may be headed toward “swing state” status.

Here’s the Houston Chronicle:

WASHINGTON – In the aftermath of President Barack Obama’s re-election victory – fueled by massive turnout among Latinos, African-Americans and other minorities – Texas Democrats began to dream that the nation’s demographic tidal wave would eventually hit Texas.

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro predicted that the reliably “red” Lone Star State is well on its way to “purple” swing state status.

None of the stories I reviewed provided hard data (i.e. what we here at The Big Picture are all about). Having found the Texas State Data Center, it took only a matter of minutes to whip up election year demographics for the state. That table is below:

(Click through for larger)

(Note: The “Total Pop” column is the sum of the other columns displayed and represents the age criteria selected (18-85, which includes those over 85); it is not the total population of the state.)

Here’s the same data looked at a bit differently:

Of course, it is impossible to know how many voting-age residents of any state will register to vote and, beyond that, actually exercise their right to do so (I’m open to suggestions as to how I should model that as I continue to collect data). That said, the table above is remarkable for the change it portends. Look at the explosion of the Hispanic population, the growth of the Black population, and the virtual stagnancy of the Anglo population. It seems conceivable to me that, under the right set of circumstances, Texas could be “in play” by the year 2020. Unless, of course, it secedes, in which case its 38 electoral votes will be lost to Republicans in 2016.

I’ll continue to update periodically as I make my way around the country.

Special thanks to Dr. Glenn Lawyer at the Max-Planck-Institut für Informatik for the ongoing discussion about demographics and the offer of assistance and collaboration on some future posts. Most appreciated, and happy to have you aboard.

Additional, fascinating reading:

Bruce Bartlett, Revenge of the Reality-Based Community

Robert Shrum, GOP Faces Years in the Wilderness

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Politics

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

18 Responses to “Lone Star Swingin’?”

  1. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Not long ago, Texas wasn’t “in play” – it was fairly Democratic, and governed by none other than Ann Richards. Texas is fickle.

    Still, that their Anglo population is dwindling is poetic justice on a number of levels.

  2. Bridget says:

    Hopefully we’ll be getting an influx of California Republicans. :)

  3. wgj says:

    If you see “growth” in that red line (black population) it goes a long way to explain some of your other counter intuitive articles.

    Invictus: I would take your apparent criticism more seriously if you demonstrated an understanding of the difference between a “table,” to which I was referring, and a “graph,” to which I was not.

  4. M says:

    Extrapolation is a very dangerous game.

    Your results say f ‘ will be a constant for each series until 2048. Do you think that is very likely?

  5. HowardA says:

    Sufolk University did a study of the portion of the population that was unlikely to vote. http://alturl.com/7x9md Perhaps you can use it to estimate the portion of each ethnic population that is likely to vote, and how they are likely to vote. I used that report to estimate how the recent presidential election would have turned out if ALL eligible voters had voted. Obama’s winning margin would have grown from 3.5% to 12.6% (the largest since Reagan defeated Mondale). And the popular vote margin would have grown from 4.4 million to at least 27 million. 78% of Republican leaning voters actually voted, while only 62% of Democratic leaning voters voted. http://alturl.com/mznr5

  6. honeybadger says:

    @wgj– note that the graph shows percentage of population, not total population. If you instead look at the table, you will see that the black population is estimated to grow from 2,182 K to 4,027 K in the indicated time period.

    @M– yes, extrapolation is difficult. If you have better data/projections than those used by the Texas State Data Center, it would interesting to know your source.

  7. call me ahab says:

    AWESOME news Invictus- Thanks

    When we finally have all 50 states voting in lockstep with each other this country will finally become the nirvana I’ve been hoping for

    (I’ll guess we will just have to assume that blacks and hispanics will be a monolithic voting block for the foreseeable future- one can only hope).

  8. Greg0658 says:

    Understand wanting to know the colors in ones zone .. but I have nothing pc to type.
    I signed in to wonder out loud if Texas secedes – if there is a legal right to withdraw NASAs Houston Control? America is its people as a whole not its business. Right? I say there is no way we leave that asset in commie hands – but where would we put it? Logically of course. The drones are controled in Utah? was it? and AF1 I think – the new improved football. Oh right flyshit – “just the facts” – Det. Bill Gannon

  9. Conan says:


    Here is a funny story to show how meanings can change between different people and different generations. Sometimes I pass on your articles and discuss it with some of the young Engineers I train. Since many are Latino, I thought this one maybe of interest.

    So believe it or not, the biggest part of the discussion was your name. I am over 50 and always thought of the poem by Henley, especially the last two lines:

    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

    However the young folks don’t study the classics much, they study video games. For me video games are Pacman, Donkey Kong, Mario Brothers, etc. However one of the new Engineers is into this and says Invictus is in a game called Vampire: The Requiem.

    So here is from Wikipedia what Invictus means as per the game:

    The Invictus (also known as the “First Estate”) An order of vampires that claim to be descendants from an ancient Roman sect known as the Camarilla. They are mostly concerned with material gain and power and therefore heavily involved in city politics and business.

    So this was my laugh to start the day. Hope you enjoy it also and no doubt times they be a changing!


    Invictus: Thanks for sharing the story. I took the name from Henley’s poem, which was my father’s favorite. My Dad passed in 2000, and when I began blogging a couple of years later, I thought it was a nice way for me to honor his memory. Then came the movie, then apparently video games. Yup, the times they be a changing.

  10. Moss says:

    Demographics play a part in many things. Bruce Bartlett helps explain why these trends have traction.
    The trajectory of the graphs are in fact credible given the underlying issues with being ‘RED’.

  11. whskyjack says:

    Not contesting the basic premise.
    But your numbers probably make Texas look swingier than it will be.

    First, the projects are based on a period of large hispanic immigration. If numbers from the current decade are used it will be much smaller.

    The other is population numbers don’t = voting population.
    It is much the problem we have around here. We have a large Hispanic population ,~5 0% but they aren’t the dominate voting block as many either can’t vote or don’t.


  12. 4whatitsworth says:

    And why not… the land of the free just keeps getting more attractive. Free food, free healthcare, free education, free retirement, free social services.

    If the politicians can continue to pit those who pay for the benefits against those who receive the benefits the trend continues. This is indeed a new era for the United States.

    This is not likely to create any new opportunities for immigrants.


    BR: If that were true., why isn’t everyone moving to Europe generally and Nordic countries in particular ?

  13. Lyle says:

    Actually the hispanic numbers are largely natural increase. If you were to look at the figures in a bit more detail the fact that hispanics are in general younger than the whites is a big factor here. Anyway the numbers for thru 2030 are pretty much baked into the cake, as they have already been born. Yes I agree with the Economist that the wave of immigration from Mexico has begun to recede, that there may well be a net outflow to Mexico now. Actually you see the effects of this already as Obama carried Harris county (by a few votes), and Dallas county the same. Note that Obama also carried Bexar county (San Antonio) and El Paso and Travis (Austin). However he did not carry the suburban counties around these cities.

  14. Lukey says:

    Yes, once all of America becomes as politically monolithic as, say, California, then we’ll really be in great shape, right? RIGHT?

    Invictus, I’d be interested in your reaction to the Op Ed by Reps. Cox and Archer in yesterday’s WSJ:


    If their math is merely wildly over stated it would still seem that we are fiscally fecked. I’d really like to know how an intelligent leftist with a handle on math looks at that situation in a “new normal” if 1.5% GDP growth and persistent 8% unemployment and sees a path to prosperity. Maybe you could address it in a new top post?

  15. DeDude says:

    It all depends on what strategy the GOP chose for the future. If they decide to double down and continue to be the party of the “white holy” tribe, they will demographically be wiped out. In favor of that outcome is that the natural tribal reaction (when you feel you are getting weaker and outnumbered) is to hunker down and get more hostile and aggressive with other tribes. But the corporate masters of the GOP would not accept becoming a permanent minority without power, so if they stay in the GOP, they will likely make sure that the party begin to reach out to other groups in a real way. They invented the tea party, they can uninvent it again, if it gets in the way of power and money. On the other hand they will need the fear and paranoia to keep their high participation rates at the poles.

  16. M says:

    @honeybadger –

    Pushing those series out to 2048 with that methodology is an error.

    The problem isn’t with the underlying data.

  17. Christopher says:

    Unless….it doesn’t.

  18. M says:

    A day late and a dollar short but since I just read this from the BBC I’ll enter it into the discussion:

    The overall US birth rate decreased by 8% between 2007-10, and by 6% among US-born women, found the data.

    The rate fell sharpest for those hardest hit by the recession: 14% among foreign-born women and 23% among Mexican immigrant women in particular.

    Notice rates of change among different populations are themselves changing at different rates. The strong implication here is that those straight line extrapolations are very poor models of reality and conclusions drawn from them are suspect.

    Invictus: My focus here was really only out to 2020 (at which point I think Texas could be in play), and the voting age demographics for that election are already set – the youngest of those voters was born in 2002. What’s happening now – that may change the course of elections come 2032 – was not what I was focused on. Finally, these numbers are from the State of Texas, which I’d hope knows a thing or two about modeling demographics. But yes, I do get your point.