What Happened in Texas

Adam Martin
The Book Aisle
Published in
22 min readFeb 10, 2021

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This is the ninth part in my series of the 2020 presidential election. In this part, we turn to Texas, the second largest state and one of the biggest targets on the Democrats’ wish list moving forward.

With that said, let’s dive in.

Big Picture

Joe Biden- 5,259,126 (46.48 percent, up 3.24 percent from Clinton in 2016)

Donald Trump- 5,890,347 (52.06 percent, down 0.17percent from 2016)

FiveThirtyEight Projection- 48.8 for Biden (up 2.32), 50.3 for Trump (down 1.76)

RCP Average- 46.5 for Biden (up 0.02), 47.8 for Trump (down 4.26)

OurProgress Projection- 48.58 for Biden (up 2.10), 48.10 for Trump (down 3.96)

In the past, I have written about Texas and the possibility of it going blue in the near future. While I’ll admit that my approach in those articles didn’t reach that of the rest of my pre-election series, I think I laid out some key battlegrounds that the Biden campaign (and that of future Democratic candidates) can pursue to win statewide. While I had confidence that the Biden campaign would be more competitive in the state, I believed that President Trump would ultimately prevail.

Granted, President Trump did better than expected in the state, leading to a more comfortable margin than what the polls indicated; however, the Biden campaign still made crucial gains in the state, especially in its major urban centers, particularly Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. On the other hand, President Trump was bolstered by significant gains in the southern part of the state, which is traditionally Democratic, heavily Hispanic, and is less affluent than the urban centers. This shift is part of a broader narrative on how the Hispanic vote in 2020 was more divided than in previous elections, with President Trump enjoying greater success among these voters in Texas as well as in Florida due to his ability to appeal to their unique political positions and cultural values. Throughout the rest of this article, we’ll explore in greater detail where exactly Trump enjoyed this success, why his message appealed to voters there, and how this shift allowed him to retain the state despite the polls expecting a tight race.

As of Election Day, there have been 950,302 COVID cases in Texas, the most of any state. Considering Texas is the second largest state, this caseload isn’t too surprising; however, the incidence rate is only 3.3 percent, ranking 19th among the states. On the other hand, there have been 18,632 deaths, the second highest of any state, but the fatality rate is only about 2 percent, ranking it 27th among the states. And economically, the impact hasn’t been as large as other states, with the unemployment rate going from 5.1 percent in March to 13.1 percent in April (an 8-point increase which ranks 31st among the states). So overall, while the impact of the pandemic in Texas may seem large based on raw numbers, it’s actually more modest relative to its population.

As of Election Day, there have been 669 BLM protests in Texas, the fifth most of any state. Much of this activity is aided by the state’s large population and multitude of major cities, but it also has some favorable demographics going for it. Texas has the largest black population in the country by raw numbers (but only 19th largest by percentage of the population), the second most college graduates (but only 29th by percentage), and the second largest young adult population (and sixth largest by percentage).

As for the exit polls, President Trump won 66 percent of white voters, slightly worse than his 2016 performance in Texas but still better than his nationwide performance this year. Trump also won 41 percent of Hispanic voters here (compared to just 32 percent nationwide), a 7-point improvement from his Texas performance four years ago. This impressive showing with Hispanic voters is a key reason why Trump won Texas by the margin that he did. Meanwhile, Biden still captured 58 percent of Hispanic voters, although this is worse than Clinton in 2016 and his national performance. Biden also won 90 percent of black voters, slightly better than his national performance.

As for educational attainment, Biden won 50 percent of college graduates and 42 percent of white college graduates, both of which are significant improvements from Clinton’s 2016 performance. But ultimately, President Trump carried 56 percent of white college graduates, a 5-point improvement from his 2016 showing. In addition, Trump carried 55 percent of voters without a college degree as well as 73 percent of white voters without a college degree, both of which are largely consistent with his 2016 performance.

As for age, Biden won 57 percent of voters in the 18–29 bracket and tied with Trump among voters in the 30–44 bracket, both of which are slight improvements from Clinton. Meanwhile, while President Trump still carried 55 percent of voters in the 45–64 bracket and 58 percent of voters over 65, these figures are worse than his 2016 performance. From this, we see that while Biden made slight improvements with younger voters, the generation gap narrowed in Texas largely due to him cutting into Trump’s lead among older voters. Even so, President Trump still enjoyed considerable success with these older voters.

Geographically, Biden won 56 percent of urban voters, a 3-point improvement from Clinton. While he did make slight improvements with suburban voters, President Trump still won this group with 57 percent, which is only 1 point below his 2016 performance. Trump also won 74 percent of rural voters, a 4-point improvement from four years ago. So while Biden made some inroads with suburban voters, this wasn’t nearly enough for him to capture the rest of the state.

Socioeconomically, 46 percent of Texas voters said their family’s financial situation is better than what it was four years ago (compared to 41 percent nationwide), of which 76 percent voted for President Trump. Meanwhile, 18 percent said their family’s financial situation is worse than what it was four years ago (compared to 20 percent nationwide), of which 89 percent voted for Joe Biden. And 35 percent said their family’s financial situation is the same as what it was four years (compared to 39 percent nationwide), of which 70 percent voted for Biden. Regarding income brackets, Biden won 59 percent of voters making less than $50,000; however, President Trump captured 55 percent of voters in the $50,000-$99,999 bracket and 52 percent of voters making over $100,000.

When asked about their most important issue, 40 percent of Texas voters said the economy (compared to 35 percent nationwide), of which 84 percent voted for President Trump. Meanwhile, 14 percent said the pandemic was the most important issue and 18 percent said racial inequality, of which 88 percent and 93 percent voted for Biden respectively. And when asked what was more important to accomplish, 47 percent prioritized containing the virus, of which 84 percent voted for Biden. On the other hand, 47 percent prioritized reopening the economy, of which 84 percent voted for Trump.

Now that we’ve gone over the exit polls, let’s run some regressions. First, here are various regression results for Biden’s county-level vote share.

To a large extent, we see similar results to that of other states. While the COVID incidence rate isn’t statistically significant with Biden’s vote share, the increase in unemployment from March to April is positively associated across all four models, indicating that Biden performed better in the counties that suffered a larger economic shock. But also similar to other states, Biden’s vote share is negatively associated with the September unemployment rate, indicating that he generally performed worse in counties with a sluggish recovery or those with poor economic fundamentals. Furthermore, there is no relationship between the number of BLM protests and Biden’s vote share.

Aside from these factors, we find that while the education gap is still persistent in Texas, it’s skewed more towards the more highly educated counties leaning more towards Biden than the less highly educated counties have a stronger aversion to Biden. And interesting, the share of Hispanic residents is positively associated with the Biden vote share, indicating that on average, Biden performs better in counties with more Hispanic residents; however, as we’ll discuss later, that doesn’t necessarily mean Biden did what he needed to in these particular areas.

Now, let’s look at the regression models for the Democratic vote share change between 2016 and 2020.

Here, we see a more dynamic story unfold. We see that Biden improved upon Clinton in the counties with larger spikes in unemployment while performing worse than her in counties that continued to have a high unemployment in September, which builds upon the findings shown in Figure 1. Furthermore, we see evidence that the education gap is growing, with Biden improving upon Clinton in counties with more college graduates while underperforming her in counties with fewer high school graduates.

But here, we start to see the trend of Biden underperforming in the heavily Hispanic counties. While Figure 1 indicates that he still performed fairly well in these counties, we see in Figure 2 that the share of Hispanic residents is negatively associated with the change in Democratic vote share, indicating that compared to Clinton in 2016, Biden performed worse in these counties. As we’ll discuss in the following section, this was a major storyline in the 2020 election, particularly in Texas and Florida, of how Biden didn’t uniformly capture Hispanic voters across the country. And for Texas, this was a key factor as to why Biden was not more competitive in the state despite there being some promise.

So with all this established, let’s dive into each of the subsections for Texas.

Solidly Democratic Counties

Brooks- Biden Hold

Biden- 1,470 (59.18 percent, down 15.44), Trump- 998 (40.18 percent, up 16.56)

OurProgress Projection- 75.35 for Biden (up 16.17), 24.65 for Trump (down 15.53)

Cameron- Biden Hold

Biden- 64,063 (56.11 percent, down 8.40), Trump- 49,032 (42.94 percent, up 10.94)

OurProgress Projection- 69.18 for Biden (up 13.07), 30.82 for Trump (down 12.12)

Culberson- Biden Hold

Biden- 438 (50.69 percent, down 8.50), Trump- 415 (48.03 percent, up 11.53)

OurProgress Projection- 66.33 for Biden (up 15.64), 33.67 for Trump (down 14.36)

Dallas- Biden Hold

Biden- 598,576 (65.10 percent, up 4.35), Trump- 307,076 (33.40 percent, down 1.25)

OurProgress Projection- 67.52 for Biden (up 2.42), 32.48 for Trump (down 0.92)

Dimmit- Biden Hold

Biden- 2,264 (61.76 percent, down 5.62), Trump- 1,384 (37.75 percent, up 7.55)

OurProgress Projection- 67.92 for Biden (up 6.16), 32.08 for Trump (down 5.67)

Duval- Biden Hold

Biden- 2,575 (50.96 percent, down 15.81), Trump- 2,443 (48.35 percent, up 16.77)

OurProgress Projection- 66.72 for Biden (up 15.76), 33.28 for Trump (down 15.07)

El Paso- Biden Hold

Biden- 178,126 (66.78 percent, down 2.30), Trump- 84,331 (31.62 percent, up 5.68)

OurProgress Projection- 74.70 for Biden (up 7.92), 25.30 for Trump (down 6.32)

Frio- Trump Flip

Biden- 2,422 (45.88 percent, down 9.67), Trump- 2,823 (53.48 percent, up 11.29)

OurProgress Projection- 56.14 for Biden (up 10.26), 43.86 for Trump (down 9.62)

Hidalgo- Biden Hold

Biden- 128,199 (58.04 percent, down 10.46), Trump- 90,527 (40.98 percent, up 12.94)

OurProgress Projection- 70.21 for Biden (up 12.17), 29.79 for Trump (down 11.19)

Jim Hogg- Biden Hold

Biden- 1,197 (58.79 percent, down 18.37), Trump- 833 (40.91 percent, up 20.62)

OurProgress Projection- 80.29 for Biden (up 21.50), 19.71 for Trump (down 21.20)

Maverick- Biden Hold

Biden- 8,332 (54.29 percent, down 22.22), Trump- 6,881 (44.84 percent, up 24.11)

OurProgress Projection- 79.54 for Biden (up 25.25), 20.46 for Trump (down 24.38)

Presidio- Biden Hold

Biden- 1,463 (65.99 percent, down 0.04), Trump- 721 (32.52 percent, up 2.99)

OurProgress Projection- 69.26 for Biden (up 3.27), 30.74 for Trump (down 1.78)

Starr- Biden Hold

Biden- 9,123 (52.06 percent, down 27.07), Trump- 8,247 (47.06 percent, up 28.11)

OurProgress Projection- 74.46 for Biden (up 22.40), 25.54 for Trump (down 21.52)

Travis- Biden Hold

Biden- 435,860 (71.62 percent, up 5.85), Trump- 161,337 (26.51 percent, down 0.63)

OurProgress Projection- 77.98 for Biden (up 7.36), 22.02 for Trump (down 4.49)

Webb- Biden Hold

Biden- 41,820 (61.14 percent, down 13.20), Trump- 25,898 (37.86 percent, up 15.11)

OurProgress Projection- 77.03 for Biden (up 11.89), 22.97 for Trump (down 14.89)

Willacy- Biden Hold

Biden- 3,108 (56.01 percent, down 11.15), Trump- 2,441 (43.99 percent, up 13.63)

OurProgress Projection- 68.85 for Biden (up 12.84), 31.15 for Trump (down 12.84)

Zapata- Trump Flip

Biden- 1,826 (47.13 percent, down 18.52), Trump- 2,033 (52.48 percent, up 19.73)

OurProgress Projection- 68.68 for Biden (up 21.55), 31.32 for Trump (down 21.16)

Zavala- Biden Hold

Biden- 2,864 (65.40 percent, down 12.22), Trump- 1,490 (34.03 percent, up 13.59)

OurProgress Projection- 79.48 for Biden (up 14.08), 20.52 for Trump (down 13.49)

First, there are eighteen solidly Democratic counties in Texas. In 2016, Clinton won this subsection with 64.7 percent of the vote, which was an improvement from the 61.6 percent that President Obama won in 2012 as well as a net gain of 200,923 votes. And this time around, Biden pushed that mark even higher by winning 65.5 percent of the vote. But while these figures are impressive, they do not tell the whole story.

In both elections, much of the Democratic shift in this subsection came from the two largest counties, Dallas and Travis. Dallas, home to the eponymous city, went from a Democratic vote share of just 57.1 percent in 2012 to 60.8 percent in 2016 and to 65.1 percent in 2020. Travis, home to the state capital of Austin and a fast-growing region, went from 60.1 percent in 2012 to 65.8 percent in 2016 and to 71.6 percent in 2020. These counties alone accounted for two thirds of all votes cast in the subsection during the 2020 election, giving their respective Democratic shifts tremendous weight in the aggregate figures. And credit must be given to Biden for locking down support in these largely urban counties. But these gains mask significant setbacks elsewhere.

On average, Joe Biden underperformed Hillary Clinton by 10.5 percentage points in each county within the subsection. In fact, Dallas and Travis were the only counties where Biden actually improved upon Clinton’s vote share. But I think the most shocking finding is that while President Obama and Hillary Clinton each won all eighteen of these solidly Democratic counties in their respective elections, Biden only won sixteen in 2020. While that may not sound like much, the fact that these counties swung in favor of President Trump after voting against him by a considerable margin in 2016 and after experiencing four years of his presidency is very telling.

Going further, this subsection is largely concentrated in the southern and western part of the state, close to the Mexican border (with Dallas and Travis being the main exceptions). These counties are overwhelming Hispanic (making up over 80 percent of the population in most cases), poor (thirteen counties are in the top twenty statewide for highest poverty rate), and have low educational attainment (more than 20 percent of the adult population does not have a high school diploma in most of these counties)

A critical component of south Texas is the prevalence of a Tejano identity. While these Tejanos are classified as Hispanic/Latino by the Census, many of these people reject such labelling with regards to a monolithic cultural and political group. Particularly, while these Tejanos have historically voted Democratic, they support the oil and gas industry and take more conservative positions on gun rights and abortion. Furthermore, while most Tejanos have Mexican ancestry, they don’t identify with the plight of recent immigrants from south of the border. In fact, they tend to support border patrol agents and other law enforcement officials. While Biden made a pitch towards a national Hispanic constituency centered on a more forgiving immigration system, the disconnect with Tejanos created an opening for President Trump to infiltrate. And through a more targeted message appealing to their more conservative inclinations, President Trump won over many of these predominantly Tejano counties in southern Texas.

The failure of political analysts to accurately capture such dividing lines within the Hispanic American population led to many overestimating Biden’s expected performance in these crucial pockets. OurProgress is a good illustration of this, where the model expected these predominantly Hispanic counties to stick pretty close to their 2016 voting behavior, leading to its projection being off by double digits in many of these counties. To be fair, these swings are pretty dramatic compared to the rest of the country; however, it’s a key factor in explaining President Trump’s performance in 2020.

As of Election Day, there have been 271,861 COVID cases in this subsection, setting the incidence rate at 4.2 percent. While accounting for almost half the caseload in the subsection, the incidence rates in Dallas and Travis are each below this top figure, at just 3.7 percent and 2.5 percent respectively. Meanwhile, cases were more prevalent across the more rural regions of the subsection, with nine counties having an incidence rate above 5 percent. On the other hand, there have been 6,282 deaths as of Election Day, setting the fatality rate at 2.3 percent.

Finally, there have been 174 BLM protests in this subsection as of Election Day. More than half of these protests occurred in either Dallas or Travis, although El Paso also emerged as a considerable hub. Outside these three counties, though, protest activity is minimal; ten counties had no protests at all. Demographically, it makes sense why these areas emerged as significant protest hubs. Nearly a quarter of Dallas’s population is black, Travis has a strong mixture of nonwhite racial groups, and Hispanics comprise a significant portion of the population in each (especially in El Paso). And while none of these counties particularly stand out with their young adult populations, Dallas and Travis are highly educated, with a large share of college graduates. So the combination of favorable demographics and sheer population explain the immense protest activity in the subsection’s largest counties.

Swing Counties

Bexar- Biden Hold

Biden- 448,452 (58.18 percent, up 3.99), Trump- 308,618 (40.04 percent, down 0.72)

OurProgress Projection- 61.57 for Biden (up 3.39), 38.43 for Trump (down 1.61)

Fort Bend- Biden Hold

Biden- 195,552 (54.70 percent, up 3.30), Trump- 157,718 (44.12 percent, down 0.64)

OurProgress Projection- 60.52 for Biden (up 5.82), 39.48 for Trump (down 4.64)

Harris- Biden Hold

Biden- 918,193 (55.96 percent, up 2.01), Trump- 700,630 (42.70 percent, up 1.09)

OurProgress Projection- 61.47 for Biden (up 5.51), 38.53 for Trump (down 4.17)

Hays- Biden Flip

Biden- 59,524 (54.41 percent, up 8.37), Trump- 47,680 (43.59 percent, down 3.29)

OurProgress Projection- 61.89 for Biden (up 7.48), 38.11 for Trump (down 5.48)

Jefferson- Trump Hold

Biden- 46,073 (48.62 percent, up 0.18), Trump- 47,570 (50.20 percent, up 1.28)

OurProgress Projection- 51.43 for Biden (up 2.81), 48.57 for Trump (down 1.63)

Jim Wells- Trump Flip

Biden- 6,119 (44.77 percent, down 9.31), Trump- 7,453 (54.52 percent, up 10.74)

OurProgress Projection- 54.64 for Biden (up 9.87), 45.36 for Trump (down 9.16)

Kenedy- Trump Flip

Biden- 65 (33.51 percent, down 19.72), Trump- 127 (65.46 percent, up 20.30)

OurProgress Projection- 56.56 for Biden (up 23.05), 43.44 for Trump (down 22.02)

Kleberg- Trump Flip

Biden- 5,314 (48.56 percent, down 1.02), Trump- 5,504 (50.29 percent, up 4.38)

OurProgress Projection- 51.83 for Biden (up 3.27), 48.17 for Trump (down 2.12)

La Salle- Trump Flip

Biden- 1,052 (43.72 percent, down 11.11), Trump- 1,335 (55.49 percent, up 13.14)

OurProgress Projection- 56.90 for Biden (up 13.18), 43.10 for Trump (down 12.39)

Nueces- Trump Hold

Biden- 60,925 (47.85 percent, up 0.73), Trump- 64,617 (50.75 percent, up 2.13)

OurProgress Projection- 52.82 for Biden (up 4.97), 47.18 for Trump (down 3.57)

Reeves- Trump Flip

Biden- 1,395 (37.82 percent, down 14.29), Trump- 2,254 (61.10 percent, up 16.60)

OurProgress Projection- 52.83 for Biden (up 15.01), 47.17 for Trump (down 13.93)

Val Verde- Trump Flip

Biden- 6,771 (44.31 percent, down 6.83), Trump- 8,284 (54.21 percent, up 10.96)

OurProgress Projection- 55.30 for Biden (up 10.99), 44.70 for Trump (down 9.51)

Next, there are twelve swing counties in Texas. While it has its fair share of rural counties in the southern and western part of the state, this subsection primarily consists of Harris (home to Houston, the fourth largest city in the country), Fort Bend (a fixture in the Houston metropolitan area), and Bexar (home to San Antonio, the seventh largest city in the country). These two metropolitan areas have been key battlegrounds for Democrats in their longstanding project to flip Texas blue and given their demographics, one can expect them to perform well there.

In 2012, President Obama won eight of these counties with 49.5 percent of the vote. Four years later, Hillary Clinton expanded upon this, winning nine counties (flipping Fort Bend and Kenedy, but losing Jefferson) with almost 53 percent of the vote, translating to a net gain of 219,022 votes. While she lost some ground in the more rural counties, her gains in the more urban counties more than made up for this.

Which brings us to 2020, where we once again have a tale of two sides for this subsection. On one hand, Biden continued to make gains in the urban counties, where most of the votes are. He ended up winning 55.6 percent of the vote in the subsection, with both Bexar and Harris becoming reclassified as solidly Democratic counties. Biden also carried Fort Bend while flipping Hays (suburbs of Austin) after an 8-point boost there from 2016. But outside of that, those are the only four counties that Biden won. The other side of Biden’s big gains in the metropolitan areas is that President Trump flipped six counties in this subsection that Clinton had won just four years ago.

Similar to those in the solidly Democratic subsection, most of these six counties have a history of supporting Democratic candidates. In 2012, three of these counties were classified as solidly Democratic themselves. Not to mention that they are rural, predominantly Hispanic, and have fairly low educational attainment. But starting in 2016, many of these six counties began drifting away; five of them saw Clinton underperform President Obama in 2016. Granted, these shifts were small and more a reflection on Clinton’s shortcomings as a candidate than on any success that Trump achieved. But in the years since then, there was a clear shift towards Trump as Trump was successfully able to target a message towards the unique interests of these counties’ voters. And this led to far bigger shifts in President Trump’s favor in 2020, with all but one of the six seeing a Democratic vote share loss of more than 5 percent and three of them seeing a loss of more than 10 percent. Once again, much credit must be given to President Trump for being able to flip these voters in more rural parts of the state closer to the Mexican border.

As of Election Day, there have been 290,531 COVID cases in this subsection, setting the incidence rate at 3.4 percent (slightly above the state average). More than half of these cases occurred in Harris (the largest county), with a substantial amount also coming from Bexar (the second largest county). For the most part, each county is pretty close to this aggregate figure, although three counties (La Salle, Nueces, and Val Verde) have an incidence rate above 5 percent while one county (Reeves) has an incidence rate below 2 percent. On the other hand, there have been 5,499 deaths in this subsection as of Election Day, setting the fatality rate at 1.9 percent (about the same as the rest of the state). Regarding timing, there has been a considerable rise in cases between the early months and the summer months. And while cases have gone down a bit during the early fall months, it was still considerably above the early month mark. And regarding unemployment, the subsection fared slightly worse than the rest of the state, going from 5.3 percent in March to 14.4 percent in April. For the most part, each county remained in this general range, although a few counties fared better than the rest, with Kenedy only seeing a 0.6 percent increase in its unemployment rate. While this subsection has recovered somewhat in the months since then, the unemployment rate was still at 9.4 percent as of September, with four counties at or near double digits.

Finally, there have been 130 BLM protests in this subsection as of Election Day, with the vast majority of them occurring in Bexar and Harris. Again, this makes sense, given that these counties are both large and urban. Demographically, Harris has a fairly substantial nonwhite population and both counties have large Hispanic populations. Furthermore, while neither county is exceptionally dominated by young adults or college graduates, the sheer raw numbers of these groups provide a decent base for protest activity.

County Flips from 2016

Fort Bend- Biden Hold

Biden- 195,552 (54.70 percent, up 3.30), Trump- 157,718 (44.12 percent, down 0.64)

OurProgress Projection- 60.52 for Biden (up 5.82), 39.48 for Trump (down 4.64)

Jefferson- Trump Hold

Biden- 46,073 (48.62 percent, up 0.18), Trump- 47,570 (50.20 percent, up 1.28)

OurProgress Projection- 51.43 for Biden (up 2.81), 48.57 for Trump (down 1.63)

Kenedy- Trump Flip

Biden- 65 (33.51 percent, down 19.72), Trump- 127 (65.46 percent, up 20.30)

OurProgress Projection- 56.56 for Biden (up 23.05), 43.44 for Trump (down 22.02)

Next, there are three counties that flipped between 2012 and 2016, all of which overlap with the swing counties. Two of these counties, Fort Bend and Kenedy, are Romney-Clinton while one county, Jefferson, is Obama-Trump. Fort Bend is by far the largest of the three and has a significant influence on the aggregate figures. In 2012, President Obama received 47.3 percent of the vote in this subsection. Four years later, Clinton expanded upon this by winning 50.7 percent of the vote, a byproduct of flipping Fort Bend, translating to a net gain of 31,334 votes. Now in 2020, Biden retained Fort Bend and won 53.4 percent of the vote; however, he failed to flip back Jefferson and lost Kenedy, which Clinton had secured in 2016.

This subsection is largely a microcosm of the others, especially considering the overlap with the swing counties. Fort Bend is an affluent, largely suburban county in the Houston metropolitan area. It has the third highest median household income in the state (at $92,310), one of the ten lowest poverty rates in the state (at just 7.9 percent), and has the third highest share of college graduates in the state (with 46.1 percent of the adult population holding a bachelor’s degree). Fort Bend is also pretty diverse, with 45.3 percent of its population being nonwhite (including 21.3 percent being black) and 24.9 percent being Hispanic. On the whole, Fort Bend is a prototypical battleground for Biden to do well in during 2020, which is demonstrated by his 3-point improvement in the county. On the other hand, while Jefferson and Kenedy have racial and ethnic diversity, they are also considerably less well off socioeconomically than Fort Bend and have far fewer college-educated voters. These differences help explain why voters in these areas were more responsive to President Trump’s campaign message than those in Fort Bend. So overall, not much different emerges in this subsection.

As of Election Day, there have been 26,366 COVID cases in this subsection, setting the incidence rate at 2.5 percent, below the state average. All three counties fall pretty close to this benchmark. On the other hand, there have been 469 deaths as of Election Day, setting the fatality rate at 1.8 percent, slightly below the state average. Regarding timing, there was a considerable spike during the summer months, when most of the subsection’s cases accumulated. While there were fewer cases in the early fall months, it was still above the mark of the early months. And for unemployment, this subsection largely mirrors the rest of the state, going from 5.8 percent in March to 14.3 percent in April. While Kenedy’s unemployment remained low during this time at just 5 percent, Jefferson saw a more considerable spike, going from 8.6 percent in March to almost 19 percent by April. And while this subsection has recovered somewhat in the months since then, unemployment remained at 9.6 percent in September.

Finally, as of Election Day, there have only been 8 BLM protests in this subsection, with 2 occurring in Fort Bend and 6 occurring in Jefferson. Both Fort Bend and Jefferson and racially and ethnically diverse, each having over 40 percent of their populations being nonwhite (including over 20 percent black in each). On the other hand, while Fort Bend does have high educational attainment, both Jefferson and Kenedy have relatively few college graduates compared to the rest of the population. So while there are some favorable demographic groups in this subsection, protest activity remains fairly low in this subsection.

Reclassifications

As with the other states, there are a few reclassifications for counties based on how their voting behavior changed from 2016 to 2020. These changes are reflected below.

Bexar (Swing to Solidly Democratic)

Brewster (Solidly Republican to Swing)

Collin (Solidly Republican to Swing)

Culberson (Solidly Democratic to Swing)

Denton (Solidly Republican to Swing)

Duval (Solidly Democratic to Swing)

Frio (Clinton to Trump)

Harris (Swing to Solidly Democratic)

Hays (Trump to Biden)

Jim Wells (Clinton to Trump)

Kenedy (Clinton to Trump)

Kleberg (Clinton to Trump)

La Salle (Clinton to Trump)

Maverick (Solidly Democratic to Swing)

Reeves (Clinton to Trump)

Starr (Solidly Democratic to Swing)

Tarrant (Trump to Biden)

Val Verde (Clinton to Trump)

Williamson (Trump to Biden)

Zapata (Clinton to Trump)

Here, we have a more complicated picture than reclassifications in other states. In this case, twenty counties have been reclassified from what they were just four years ago. And unlike other states, there isn’t a clear uniform direction these counties moved in. Eight counties shifted to the left of their 2016 classification while twelve counties shifted to the right. Furthermore, seven counties moved into the swing county classification, suggesting that these areas have either become highly competitive or are in transition from being solid in one direction.

Broken down further, we once again see trends exhibited in each of the subsections. Particularly, almost all of the counties that shifted to the left of their 2016 classification are urban or suburban and are concentrated in the central and eastern parts of the state. This includes counties with major cities (such as Bexar and Harris) as well as counties with traditionally Republican suburbs (such as Collin and Denton). Meanwhile, most of the counties that shifted to the right of their 2016 classification are rural and concentrated in the western and southern part of the state. Considering these factors, nothing here jumps out as surprising.

Conclusion

Overall, I predicted that President Trump would hold the state of Texas. While I acknowledged the demographic shifts in the metropolitan areas and the opportunities for the Biden campaign to carry these regions, I did not think these gains would be enough to win statewide. Of course, my pre-election predictions did not take into account President Trump’s success in the rural, predominantly Hispanic areas in the southern part of the state. But even if Biden had matched Clinton’s vote share in the solidly Democratic counties where he underperformed her while also keeping his improvements in Dallas and Travis, he only would have netted 60,247 votes, not nearly enough to make up the 631,221 vote margin that he lost by statewide.

The improvements that Biden made in Texas are consistent with national trends and indicate that Texas can be competitive in the current political climate. But 2020 demonstrated how to some extent, the grip Democrats have established in the cities and suburbs has room to grow, which can further set them on the path to victory statewide. But it also demonstrated how even with a decent vote share of these metropolitan areas, Texas truly is a state with a competitive urban-rural divide, which will make it more difficult for Democrats to win statewide relying solely on these population centers.

So that’s it for this part of this series. If you enjoyed this, please like and follow the Book Aisle. Also share this article on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms.

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