January 20, 2009, ushered in a new administration with the inauguration of Barack Obama, and to some, it ushered in a new political age. But in Texas, that date marked an end: the end to the Bush era in Texas politics. On that day, George W. Bush left office, returning to Texas to retire permanently from electoral politics. And for the first time since at least 1980, the most prominent Republican politician in the state of Texas will not be named George Bush. Before 1980, political Texas was a very different place. In 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter won the state, and the state political establishment was dominated by Democrats. At that point, only one Republican politician had won victory in a statewide election since Reconstruction (U.S. senator John Tower), and Republican representation in the state legislature and congressional delegation seemed a mere token.1 In the intervening thirty-two years, the tables in Texas have turned. Republicans have won, and in recent years, won big. Republicans have won the presidency in Texas every election since 1980, have held the state's two U.S. Senate seats since 1993, and won majorities in the state Senate in 1998, in the state House in 2002, and in the state's congressional delegation in 2004. In short, the state today is solidly Republican. In this chapter, we assess the 2008 election in the context of the Bush era in Texas politics. The Bush era made the state not only solidly Repub - lican at present, but it has put the Republicans in a solid position for the near future. Nearly half of the state's 2008 voters (46 percent) were conservatives, helping Republicans to hold a major advantage among white voters and in rural and suburban Texas. The 2008 election provided some hopeful signs for Texas Democrats-gains in urban counties, and among Hispanic and young voters-but the Republican strengths are greater than the Democrats'. Republican political dominance of Texas will continue over the next decade unless Democrats can reduce the number of conservatives in the state and make gains among white and suburban voters.
|Title of host publication||A Paler Shade of Red|
|Subtitle of host publication||The 2008 Presidential Election in the South|
|Publisher||University of Arkansas Press|
|Number of pages||19|
|State||Published - 2009|