For the second straight election cycle, a Democrat has won the very top race on the ballot in Tarrant Co. President-elect Joe Biden narrowly carried the county over President Trump, 49.3%-49.1%, a margin of just under 2K votes. Two years ago, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) edged out U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R), 49.9%-49.2%, a margin of just over 4K votes.
In both elections, every other Republican running countywide won. Aside from Democrat Beverly Powell (D-Burleson) ousting Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) in 2018, Republicans retained every county, judicial, legislative and congressional seat they held coming into those elections.
“One false narrative that keeps circulating is that Tarrant County turned blue this election,” said Tarrant Co. Republican chair Rick Barnes in a November 24 statement. “That claim could not be further from the truth … The fact is that Tarrant County remains the largest red county in the country, and we will be for years to come.”
Aside from the U.S. Senate race, the average Republican running countywide in 2018 received 52.8% of the vote, measured head-to-head against the Democrat. In 2020, the average Republican received 52.9% of the vote. Looking just at the five competitive state House races, the Republican incumbents and open-seat candidates averaged 53.1% of the vote in 2018 and 2020. Just six hundredths of a percentage point separated their average performances in the last two elections.
That’s a remarkable bit of stability for an electorate that’s moving beneath the surface. Every Republican-held Tarrant Co. House district except for HD99 has been shifting toward the Democrats relative to the state as a whole, and that movement continued in 2020:
- HD91 (Klick) moved 1.3 points toward the Democrats, shifting to 8.1 points redder than the state as a whole in 2020 from 9.4 points redder in 2018. Since 2016, the district has grown 3.0 percentage points less red, relative to the state.
- HD92 (Cason) moved 2.7 points toward the Democrats, shifting to 2.2 points bluer than the state as a whole in 2020 from 0.5 points redder than the state in 2018. Since 2016, the district has shifted 4.9 points bluer.
- HD93 (Krause) moved 1.1 points toward the Democrats, going from 0.6 points redder than the state to 0.5 points bluer. Since 2016, the district has shifted 3.6 points bluer.
- HD94 (Tinderholt) moved 2.4 points toward the Democrats, going from 1.2 points redder in 2018 to 1.2 points bluer than the state in 2020. Compared to 2016, the district is 4.0 points bluer, relative to the state as a whole.
- HD96 (Cook) moved 2.3 points toward the Democrats, shifting from 1.3 points bluer than the state to 3.6 points bluer. Since 2016, the district has shifted 4.0 points bluer; and
- HD97 (Goldman) moved 1.2 points toward the Democrats, going from 1.0 point redder than the state as a whole in 2018 to 0.2 points bluer than the state in 2020. Since 2016, the district shifted 2.3 points bluer.
- HD98 (Capriglione) moved 2.4 points toward the Democrats, going from 14.8 points redder than the state in 2018 to 12.4 points redder in 2020. Since 2016, the district has gotten 4.6 percentage points less red, relative to the state.
However, as noted, these shifts did not change the results, and Republicans swept these seats, as they have in every election cycle since they were drawn.
Meanwhile, the three Democrat-held House districts shifted toward the Republicans in 2020. Hispanic/Latino-majority HD90 (Romero) got 5 percentage points less blue, relative to the state, consistent with red-ward shifts in South and West Texas districts. The shifts in HD95 (Collier) and HD101 (Turner) were much smaller – 0.5 and 0.9 percentage points, respectively. That said, HD95 has moved 7.1 points toward the Republicans since 2012. The average Democrat running in HD95 has received between 75.2% and 76.9% of the vote, measured head-to-head, since 2012, even as the average Democrat’s share of the statewide vote has climbed by 3 points over that period.
Expect redistricting to account for some of these shifts so that the durability of the Republican-held seats will extend well into the next decade.
©2020 Texas Election Source LLC