AUSTIN (Nexstar) — While Democrats have been outperforming expectations nationally in a midterm election, Texas’ statewide candidates took another hit as Texas Republicans are maintaining what is now a near-three-decade grasp on statewide offices.
Top-of-the-ticket incumbents were sent back for additional terms after Texas voters chose Republicans over Democrats for all statewide government positions this year. Democrats haven’t won a statewide election since 1994.
Republicans underperformed nationally after talk of a “red wave” — a change from what is historically expected for the party opposite of the president in power. National Democrats were able to minimize their losses, yet that wasn’t true for many of the party’s candidates in Texas.
“Texas continues to solidly be red as it has been for the last 20-plus years,” Dr. Natasha Altema McNeely, a politics professor at the University of Texas-RGV, said.
Political analysts largely attribute national Democrats’ better-than-expected performance to issues like abortion and threats to democracy.
In states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, both Democratic candidates for governor won tight races running on those issues against Trump-aligned Republican candidates. Yet, their winning formula did not hold in the Lone Star state.
“Some of these big headwind forces that were coming out of D.C. that made Democrats popular really hurt Democrats here in Texas,” Brandon Rottinghaus, a politics professor at the University of Houston, said.
As far as the GOP picking up seats in the state legislature, he said redistricting is sure to be a significant factor in the outcome of some Texas races.
“Gerrymandering definitely puts up a pretty tall red wall. It was hard for Democrats to compete in some of these places,” Rottinghaus said. “The Democrats did manage to keep the two seats in South Texas that they presumed that they would win, but they lost a third.”
Rottinghaus said, as far as statewide losses go, it likely comes down to turnout and a large, conservative electorate in rural parts of Texas.
“The electorate is pretty conservative in Texas, there’s no denying that,” Rottinghaus said. “The most committed voters showed up, that’s typical of most elections. But in this case, those committed voters were very partisan voters. So we ended up with a very partisan outcome.”
During this election cycle, Texas voters broke records — and not in a good way. Only one-third of registered voters cast their ballot in Tuesday’s election, with 9.6 million voters not making their voices heard. The previous record was set in 2014, when 9.3 million registered voters did not vote in Texas.