» FW Star-Telegram: Legal wrangling over Texas redistricting misses the big story (Michael Li)
I’m way overdue in commenting on this, but better late than never. Michael’s definitely noticing much of the same thing I am with regard to some of the new challenges that demographics pose for redistricting. In his case, naturally, its from a very Metroplex-centric perspective …
This year’s big theme is the remarkable growth of the state’s Hispanic population. After all, 65 percent of Texas’ population growth over the last decade was Hispanic. Despite that, there’s a compelling argument that Hispanic voting strength is actually diminished under the new voting maps approved by the Legislature.
As powerful as that story is, there’s another equally important, but less commented upon, story in this year’s redistricting fights: the emergence of diverse multi-ethnic districts in the state’s urban areas, where historically discriminated-against minority groups have managed to achieve gains by working together.
There’s no better example of this than state Senate District 10, which Wendy Davis won in 2008 based on the support of 99 percent of African-Americans and more than 80 percent of Hispanics, plus a smaller percentage of Anglos.
Over time, this may, in fact, be the bigger story of the last decade.
As urban Texas becomes more diverse — and compartmentalized neighborhoods that are the exclusive preserve of one ethnic group disappear — more and more districts like Davis’ will emerge naturally. The competitive state House seats that have arisen in recent years in places like Irving and Grand Prairie are a product of the same phenomena.
At the day job, there’s one part of any presentation on demographics that we show that’s pretty sure to get some attention. All it is is a flip-through of the demographic majority maps for total population in Harris County from 1980 through 2010. If you view the full page and just go page by page, you get an old-school flip-book demonstrating the impact of demographic change over that span of time. There aren’t many counties in the state where a similar effect can be seen. It’s just a matter of scale depending on the county.