Blog approximately how long did one-party democratic rule last in...

approximately how long did one-party democratic rule last in texas?


One-party rule in Texas is a controversial issue. The first Democratic Party office holders appeared in 1872. In the subsequent decade, they began winning seats in the state legislature and Democratic presidential electors began appearing on the Texas ballot, but statewide Democrats never accounted for more than 19% of total voter registrations before 1974 when the passage of the Voting Rights Act temporarily shifted voting patterns statewide. The party’s high-water mark came when Dolph Briscoe became Governor in 1970 and all of its state constitutional officers were elected as well. However, by 1980 Republicans had 80 year to 20% registration disparity withen both major parties. In the midst of an economic recession, they had upset victories in 1980 and 1986. In 1982, a much-attacked Democratic presidential candidate won Texas by 5%, the largest margin for any Democrat in the state since Lyndon Johnson nearly four decades earlier. The following year, a Democratic U.S. Senator was elected by the most comfortable majority in both chambers of the Texas legislature since Reconstruction.

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In 1994 a Republican governor with no prior elected statewide experience won re-election by one of the largest margins in history (6% even after adjusting for population growth). The Republican Party gained control of both houses of the Texas legislature in 2004 following a massive turnout effort that captured nearly 2 million voters, nearly 1.4 million more than the Democratic turnout. Republicans maintained a majority in both chambers in both 2006 and 2010, and in 2012 swept the two statewide offices as well. Texas Democrats have not won any statewide election since 1994. The state government is now dominated by a Republican Party that fully controls both houses of the legislature and every statewide office.

The article shows how the widespread dissatisfaction with Democrats in Texas was translated into real political power by conservatives who had no commitment to Republican ideals but were committed to ending one-party Democratic rule. The article contends that the massive turnout effort in 1994 was a one-time fluke. The successful conservative “cooptation” of a substantial portion of the Democratic vote resulted in a voter backlash against the Republican Party once Democrats reorganized following their near-demise in 1982. The article asserts that as long as Texans are willing to hold their noses and vote for whatever team happens to be wearing red or blue jerseys, middle-of-the-road candidates will have difficulty mounting credible candidacies, regardless of party label.
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

**Texas Tribune content is created by a diverse group of journalists who believe in the principles of transparency, accountability and open communication. Learn more about our editorial policies and funding mechanisms here.

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