Campaign And Elections Paper

Paper must be double spaced, with 12 point font and include section headers for each of the paper sections noted below (Candidate, Campaign Message, Campaign Strategy, Campaign Resources).

Objective: The objective of this assignment is for students to think critically about effective political campaigns in Texas and understand both the personal and social responsibility inherent in representative democracy.

Description of Assignment: You have been hired to be the campaign manager for a candidate who is running in the 2022 general election to be the Governor of Texas. As campaign manager, you need to develop the campaign plan based on the four of the five (do not worry about campaign organization) components of a modern campaign discussed in the lecture notes. In your paper, please address the following:

  • Candidate Description: A description of the qualifications (personal and professional) of the fictional candidate you will be working for. Create the biography for your candidate, including name, education, family, political and work experience, history and characteristics (include political party) for your candidate. (Unit 2 Written Lectures, Slide 2-23)
  • Campaign Message: Select one of the campaign messages in the notes and talk about how it will be used in your campaign- it should be a good fit for the candidate you describe. (Unit 2 Written Lectures, Slide 2-24)
  • Campaign Strategy: Explain what types of voters are likely to vote for you (based on candidate qualities and campaign message noted above). (Unit 2, Written Lectures, Slide 2-25)
  • Campaign Resources: Explain what types of people are most likely to donate money to and work in your campaign. (Unit 2, Written Lectures, Slide 2-25)

The paper should include subject headers (ie. Candidate, Campaign Message, Campaign Strategy and Campaign Resources, etc.). The paper should be at least 3-4 pages in length.

Four Components of State Politics


While we think of government as a singular entity, it is, in reality, a series of many interrelated parts. While you can consider many components to the governing system of Texas, it is reasonable to divide them into four parts built around the classic “input – output” model. You can use these four parts to organize and understand any political entity – the nation, the state, the county, the city or even your family. These four parts will also be the guiding organizational structure for this course. The first two components can be considered inputs, or factors that contribute to what government in Texas is or does.

· First, the government of Texas can only be accurately understood in the context of the history, geography, political culture, economics and demographic nature of the state.

· Second, the political decisions of the state’s leaders are a reflection of the people who choose to participate in the political system through individual (voting, contacting, campaigning, or running) or aggregate (interest groups or political parties) means of involvement.

These two methods of input contribute to the actual decision making institutions (legislature, executive, bureaucracy, and courts) that make up Texas government. The end result of this governing process is the public policy (for example, taxes, education, environment) of government. As you will hopefully see during this course, government is not a thing, but rather a process. That process is dynamic and ever-changing, reflecting the changing values and demands of the citizens of Texas.

· Third, the government is defined by the institutions that make, implement and evaluate public policy. In this class, we will look at the three branches of government (legislative, executive and judicial) as well as the bureaucracy that carries out the laws. The legislature makes the laws; the governor (with the help of the bureaucracy) implements the laws; and the courts determine if the laws are applied fairly and legally.

· Fourth, the end product of all of this is public policy. Laws passed and implemented by the government address problems and improve the quality of life for all Texans (at least in theory). Public policy influences every aspect of your life from the food  you eat, to the air you breathe, to the class you are taking right now!’

The Texas Mystique

Every state is different and unique. California has qualities that make it different from New York, which is different from North Carolina. Likewise, Texas is unique and possesses qualities that set it apart from other states. However, the unique qualities of Texas have taken on almost mythical proportions. Fueled by the depictions of authors, artists, journalists, and politicians, the state of Texas evokes images in the minds of people around the world that are vivid and unlike those associated with any other state in America.


For some, the image of Texas is that evoked by the movies of John Wayne (Links to an external site.) or the figures in a Remington sculpture. For these people, Texas is a land of open plains, dominated by leather-tanned cowboys, often with a loving family waiting at home, singing songs by a campfire in front of a fiery red sky. For others, Texas remains lost in the turn of the twentieth century, populated by young charismatic men bent on making their life in the oil fields, as captured in the movie  Giant (Links to an external site.) . Finally, with the worldwide syndication of  Dallas, both old and the 2010 remake (television show), and the public exposure of Texas billionaires like Ross Perot and the Hunt brothers, others expect that Texans all have large homes, flashy jewelry and big houses on an open ranch.

Not surprisingly, while the myths of Texas might have a grain of truth, they are far from reality. The reality is that Texas is a state that is over eighty percent urban with a very diverse population and economy. The largest employer in Texas is the “service industry” – Texas cowboys are more likely to be found at “Billy Bob’s Honky Tonk” than out on the range and they are generally of the urban variety! More jobs are now generated by the computer and technology industries (especially in Central Texas) than the oil industry, and the famously rich Texans are more than offset by the high rate of poverty that permeates much of the southern and eastern parts of the state. In fact, historically, five of the nation’s ten poorest counties are found along the Southern border of Texas. While the myths of Texas may be larger than life, the realities of life in Texas are quite real, and sometimes rather unpleasant for many.

The Significance of Context

While the focus of this portion of the course is on how context reflects political life in Texas, the significance of context is perhaps best understood in terms of the decisions that you make every day of your life. Just as you must decide how to allocate valuable resources (time and money are just two), the state must decide how to allocate its valuable resources, including tax burden (who pays), government services (who plays), and political power (who wins).


Consider how you allocate your time in a day. No matter how rich or famous you are, time is a fixed resource. Your day has the same twenty-four hours as that of Rick Perry, Barack Obama or Dirk Nowitski. However, you have the power to allocate that valuable resource in any way that you see fit (within the law). Think about the things on which you might spend it: work, studying, hygiene (that means taking a bath or shower!), eating, socializing, sleeping, spending time with family, or entertainment. You will allocate your time differently than will your classmate. Why?

Our decisions are made based on our own unique set of values, experiences and demands. If religion is important to you, you will go to church rather than sleep on Sunday morning. If you have a test tomorrow, you will (hopefully) study rather than go see a movie tonight. If experience tells you that you can’t function on less than ten hours of sleep, you will choose to go to bed rather than to watch Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert on the night before that test.

In a similar manner, the way the state of Texas allocates its resources (money and tax obligation) is a function of the unique combination of values, experiences and demands that its citizens possess. That unique context will make the allocation of revenue and tax obligation different in Texas than anywhere else. Four things determine the decisions that the state makes regarding its expenditures: values (what is important to the state), external pressures (what must be done), interests (what the leaders of the state want or like to do), and resources (what revenues and resources the state has available to work with).

Context affects politics in four ways.

Who Plays. First, it influences who plays, or who gets involved in the political process. In Texas (and the rest of the country), White, well-educated, wealthy folks tend to be more active in politics. It costs a lot of money to influence politics in Texas, and if you do not have resources, money, or access, it is difficult to be a “player” in the political system.

Who Pays. Second, the context influences who pays, or which people tend to pay more money to the government. Does the state tax the poor at a higher rate than the wealthy?Texas is generally considered a regressive tax state, where the poor pay a larger proportion of their income in taxes than do the rich (note that I am not saying the poor pay more in dollars, just in the proportion of their income that goes to the government). For example, in 2012, on average, the poorest 20% of Texans paid about one dime (11.3%) of each dollar they earned to the state while the wealthiest 1% of the population paid about 3 cents (3.2%) per dollar earned.

Who Wins? Third, context influences who wins, or who tends to get the money back from the government. In Texas, the biggest winners are generally the same folks who tend to play-the wealthy. The wealthy win because much of the money goes to wealthy school districts or is redistributed in tax breaks to profitable companies and company owners. Do corporations or individuals contribute more to the revenues of Texas?  When it comes to environmental policies, do tree huggers beat business leaders?

Size of the Prize. Finally, context influences the size of the prize or how big government is-what you are playing for. While the budget of Texas is large because the state is large, it is relatively small per person (per capita). Compared to other large states, the “prize” is pretty small. Again, this is a reflection of the attitude that government is not the answer and folks need to be independent and “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”

The Texas of today is a function of the Texas of yesterday. How Texas and Texans act is a reflection of who they were as much as who they are. In this course, we will examine various aspects of the context of Texas. First, we will look at the political culture, examining the political history and nature of the state. Second, we will turn to the history of the state, looking at how each of the distinct periods of Texas history is reflected in the state today. Next, we will look at the state’s demographic qualities-age, education, racial distribution, and economic characteristics of the people. Third, geographic context: Texas is a large state and various parts of the state are distinct in terms of history, economies, politics, and demographics. Fourth and finally, we will look at the consequences of the various constitutions (including the current one) that the state has had.

This course is about politics-the distribution of power and responsibility between the government and the governed. In order to understand the context of Texas government (past and present), it is necessary to understand the framework of the United States government within which it exists. The US system of government is known as a federal system in that power is divided between central and regional governments. This division can be seen at the national level in the power that resides in Washington, D.C. (central) versus the power that resides in state capitals (regional) as well as at the local level in the power of the county seat versus the power of individual towns or cities. Although local governments such as counties and cities enjoy only the powers granted them by their state government, states enjoy all powers not reserved by the constitution as powers of the national government (or otherwise prohibited by law).  Factors that influence the balance of power between state and national government include resources, ability, and interest.

A very specific and complex state constitution establishes the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of Texas government, along with their respective powers. Because of the specificity of some provisions, the constitution must be amended frequently. It also establishes a very weak chief executive (governor) and complex and confusing courts system.

It is also imperative that we understand the political culture- the partisan and ideological backdrop for the politics of today. The people that are elected and the laws that are passed in Texas are a reflection of the historical political culture and the current political culture (partisanship and ideology) that define the state.


The Historical Political Culture

Political culture can be defined as “a set of beliefs, sentiments, and attitudes that give meaning to the political process.” This definition plays out in a democracy in terms of the belief that the government’s laws and policies are legitimized by representation of the governed (people) in enacting and enforcing fair laws/policies. It is, in short, values that determine how government works in your state. According to Daniel Elazar, the United States can be divided into three distinct political cultures based on historic settlement and migration patterns.

The Northeast and Midwestern United States (e.g.,  Pennsylvania (Links to an external site.)) are dominated by the “individualistic culture.” This approach to governing is dominated by the importance of the needs, wants and desires of individuals. Government is viewed with disdain and provides the minimal service demanded by the voters. Government in this culture is viewed as a “market-place.”


Puritans established this in the Northeast and then migration took it west into the Midwest and middle part of the country (Kansas, Nebraska, etc.). The two political parties are like competing stores (think Wal-Mart and Target), the voters are consumers, and votes are the currency (not money) of this market. The two political parties use their policies (taxes, programs, etc.) to compete for voters just as stores use their products and prices to compete for customers. In this marketplace concept, virtually anything goes regarding ethics. Interest groups are powerful and very weakly restricted, ethics rules are weak and rarely enforced, and services are provided only if demanded by the consumers (voters).


The Great Lakes states ( Minnesota (Links to an external site.), for example) are dominated by the “moralistic culture.” According to this view of politics, government is good and can provide assistance to those who cannot help themselves. Government in this environment is considered to be a good thing, government is a positive. It is in the interest of people in this culture to look out for the good of the commonwealth even if there is a personal cost. In this culture, government is viewed from the perspective of the commonwealth. It is not about what is good for the individual, but what is good for the entire state. Individuals may need to give up something (rights, tax dollars, etc.) for the good of the state. The role of both political parties and interest groups is less important and legislators are held to a very high ethical standard. This culture, according to Elezar, arrived from the Scandinavian countries in the mid -1800’s into Minnesota, Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, and spread west (North Dakota, Washington, Oregon, Northern California). Voting is considered a privilege and voters participate at high levels. Politicians serve in order to help people. It is generally the opposite of the individualistic culture.

Finally, the Southeastern United States (such as  Georgia (Links to an external site.)) is dominated by the “traditionalistic culture,” which focuses on the elitist culture and making sure that things do not change very much. Decisions are made by and for the elites. This culture is sort of in-between the other two. Like the individualistic culture, interest groups are important, ethics are rather lose and participation is likely to be relatively low. However, unlike a pluralistic approach to governing which argues that interest groups best represent the needs and interests of many different view points (including minorities), this elitist approach to governing acknowledges only the interests of the elite members of society. Like the moralistic culture, political parties are of limited importance and political salaries are likely to be low. However, the motivation behind this culture is very different – the elites in this society are motivated to keep things as they have always been (status quo) or maintain “tradition.” Generally, one party controls the politics because two competitive parties might encourage voters to seek change and play the two parties off each other to get that change. This culture is generally elitist, with the wealthy benefiting from the decisions and efforts to keep the poor (and often minorities) from voting. The elites actually believe that their decisions are better for everyone, the poor as well as the wealthy. The origins of this culture trace its roots in the South to the slave culture in which the elites (owners) assumed that they knew best and that they would take care of the slaves.

According to Elazar, Texas is a combination of the traditionalist and individualistic cultures. The eastern part of the state, settled in the 1820s and 1830s by former Southerners, and South Texas, settled by Mexican immigrants, is dominated by the elitist traditionalistic culture. It is a reflection of two historic movements.

First, many former slaveholders from the South moved to East Texas and established a slave culture there. Even today, East Texas is similar to the traditional Southeastern United States, where small towns have been dominated by the same White wealthy families for generations, voter participation is low, and government services are minimal. Along the southern border, however, we had a different strain of traditionalistic culture, coming from Mexico with a rather matriarchal (female-headed families) centered society. At any rate, you still end up with low turnout and high elite voting and control.

On the other hand, the central part of the state, settled by German and East European immigrants, and the western counties, populated in the 1800s by citizens from the Midwest United States, has historically reflected the individualistic culture. In these parts of the state (central and western parts of the state), government is limited and the focus  is on independence and “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” Government in individualistic culture is a “necessary evil,” doing only what is demanded by the voters and nothing more. People are expected to take care of themselves

Can historic settlement patterns from over a hundred years ago really affect politics and policy today? While you might think not, read the description of each type of culture, think about the part of the state or the country where you grew up. You might be surprised to find how well these general descriptions fit your perceptions of state or local politics today!

Source of Political Cultures

Where are you from? That question may be a lot more difficult to answer than you think! You may say, “I’m from Dallas,” or “I’m from El Paso,” “or “I’m from New Jersey,” or “I’m from Taiwan.” However, your origins run much deeper than that. With the exception of Native Americans, we all trace our own roots to some immigrant who came to the United States or Texas one year, thirty years, or three hundred years ago. In the same way, the historic political cultures that define Texas and the rest of the United States have their origins in the stories of immigrants that settled this country centuries ago.

Daniel Elazar, the person who coined the terms moralisticindividualist or traditionalistic political cultures suggests that each derived from a distinct combination of immigration and economic necessity. Each subculture had its origins in a particular group that settled the Eastern and Midwestern regions of the United States more than two hundred years ago. As these immigrants and their descendants moved west and south, they took their cultures with them and adapted them to the unique conditions of their new state. In addition, the Texas political culture reflects the influence of the state’s Mexican origins, giving us a combination of western (individualistic, with a streak of rugged independence), southern (traditionalistic, with a paternalistic flavor), Mexican (traditionalistic with a maternalistic flavor) and Midwestern (traditionalistic based on the Puritan work ethic) flavors that is uniquely Texan!!

The Modern Political Cultures

Let’s assume that you have just been elected governor of Texas and you are trying to determine the policies and positions that will get you re-elected four years down the road. Is it enough to know the historical political cultures of the state? No. Just as you are more than the compilation of things that occurred long before you were born, modern Texas politics is more than just what happened over two hundred years ago in Wisconsin! The political landscape of Texas is different today than it was ten years ago, let alone a hundred years ago.

Two aspects of the modern political landscape should be of particular interest to you as a politician running for office: partisanship and ideology. Partisanship will help you to determine the degree to which being a Democrat or Republican will help or hurt your chances of re-election. While Democrats have traditionally done very well in Texas, recent changes in the partisan make-up of the population would suggest that the immediate future (next decade or so) for a Republican candidate is pretty bright. Indeed, following the 2010 elections, Republicans held all major statewide offices, both Texas seats in the US Senate, a majority of the Congressional seats, and a majority in both chambers of the state legislature. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney carried Texas by more than ten percent despite losing the national vote, Republican Ted Cruz easily won the US Senate seat held by retiring Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Republicans kept control of the Congressional delegation, the Texas House and the Texas Senate. A 2011 survey of 800 Texans found 49% leaning Republican, 37% leaning Democratic and 13% Independents. Clearly Republicans have reversed the trend of Democratic control that so dominated the state for 150 years. Knowing this helps explain why Republicans control so many offices in the state.

However, some believe that change may be coming to the partisan balance in Texas. As Hispanics continue to make up a growing proportion of the Texas population and the Texas electorate (voters), some see Republican dominance weakening. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney got less than three in ten (29 percent) of the Hispanic votes nationwide. While Republicans did better in Texas with Hispanic Ted Cruz at the top of the ticket, they still got a minority of the Hispanic vote. If Republicans in Texas don’t increase their appeal among Hispanic voters, the state might be much more competitive in the next decade or two.

Political ideology can be defined as the particular approach to governing that a person accepts, focusing on the degree to which government should be active and involved in various aspects of daily life. We generally think of the conservative ideology as one in which voters prefer limited government intervention on financial matters (against minimum wage, against welfare and for free market), but more intervention on social issues (for government involvement in school prayer, abortion, gay rights, etc.). On the other hand, the liberal ideology is generally viewed as the opposite. Liberals are more interested in government intervention in welfare, taxes, etc., but do not want governments involved in decisions like gay marriage, abortion, and school prayer.

Texas has traditionally been controlled by conservatives (for discussion of conservative views, see the 2004 Texas Republican platform) and they are still a majority. A 2011 survey reveals that a slim majority of Texans (52 percent) consider themselves conservative, while less than a quarter (22 percent) claim to be liberal and exactly a quarter (25 percent) are somewhere in between the two.

However, as a candidate, you might find a strong base of support among  minorities (Links to an external site.) women (Links to an external site.) and voters in the southern region (along the Mexico border and the Texas Gulf Coast) if you make a moderate or liberal appeal. Interestingly, while the conservative ideology is generally associated with the Republican Party, that has not always been the case in southern parts of the United States, including Texas. Indeed, for most of the last 150 years, while Texas was conservative, it was also Democratic. Only in the last ten years or so have many of these old-line “Conservative Democrats” switched their allegiance to the Republican Party.

Do you think the growing Hispanic population will return Texas to its days of Democratic dominance or will Republicans reach out and increase their share of votes from this significant group of voters?

Now you can combine the two ideologies and two parties to come up with four groups that really define Texas Politics. Let’s look first at the Republicans. Texas Republicans fall into one of two groups: Boardroom Republicans and Bedroom Republicans. Boardroom Republicans are primarily concerned about money matters – they want government that is free-market, and low taxes and low regulation on businesses, but care little about social issues like abortion, gay marriage, and school prayer. On the other hand, Bedroom Republicans are much more concerned about these moral issues and what government is doing about them, but do not worry so much about the stock market, taxing the wealthy, or welfare spending. Interestingly, the growing Tea Party Movement, while it began as an anti-tax movement, now seems to contain some members of both Republican factions. While both groups of Republicans are conservative; their brands of conservatism vary considerably. In 2012, the distinction between the two types of Republicans played out in the race for US Senate with Boardroom Republican David Dewhurst losing to Bedroom Republican Ted Cruz who had the support of the Tea Party organization in Texas. It played out again in the 2014 race for Lt. Governor where Dewhurst lost to Tea Party candidate Dan Patrick.

Interestingly, a 2016 pol (Links to an external site.)l conducted by the University of Texas The Texas Politics Project (Links to an external site.) found that if the Tea Party were to form an independent political party in Texas and run candidates for the US Congress in 2018, 17 percent of the respondents indicated they would vote for the Tea Party candidate, while 20 percent would vote Republican, 37 percent Democratic and 26 percent did not know how they wold vote. When you combine the vote of the Tea Party Candidate and the Republcian candidate (20 + 17), they equal the prospective vote for the Democratic cnadidate.

Democrats can also be divided into two traditional camps: Conservative Democrats and Moderate Democrats (sometimes also referred to as Liberal Democrats). Conservative Democrats tend to be quite similar to Boardroom Republicans, but still consider themselves to be Democrats. They look at politics through the lens of economics, adopting the traditional individualistic culture of the state-limited taxes, and limited social spending. However, they will support some social spending and oppose efforts to restrict voting access. Many have remained Democrats because their families have always been Democrats going back to the post-civil war era. Finally, Moderate Democrats would be the closest thing to true liberals in the state-in favor of increased social spending on welfare, education, etc., but are also pro-choice, pro-gay rights and anti-school prayer. I call them Moderates because the word liberal does not fly in Texas politics.

Boardroom Republicans tend to be strong in suburban areas around big cities like Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, while Bedroom Republicans tend to dominate in rural communities, especially in the western part of the state and the Panhandle. Conservative Democrats tend to be strongest in rural communities in the Eastern and Southern parts of the state, while moderate Democrats do well in urban areas and along the border with Mexico.

Republicans (including Republicans who identify with the Tea Party like Lt. Governor Dan Patrick) have won the vast majority of statewide elections in recent years, winning every statewide election in 2014 and giving Donald Trump a nine point win in the 2016 Presidential election. Further, Republicans also control the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate with strong majorities.

Historical Influences 1820-1860

The political structures, values, parties and ideologies that define politics today in Texas do not evolve from or exist in a vacuum. Rather, they are the cumulative result of decades of historical events, activities, and personalities that have dominated Texas over the last 150 years. Just as your family has stories that are told across generations about people or events that define who you are (I have a Revolutionary War general on one side of the family and a Tory sympathizer on the other!), the state of Texas is defined by stories that pepper its history and contribute to its present. The first such story is the battle for Texas independence that is so famous. In the eyes of most Americans, and surely most Texans (Remember the Alamo!!!), the defining moment of Texas is the  Battle of the Alamo (Links to an external site.). A handful of strong-willed, independent frontiersmen were willing to die for their freedom rather than submit to tyranny. Their commitment to defeat Mexico came about, in part, as a result of the many challenges that Texans faced under Mexican rule.  They were expected to speak Spanish (the official language), practice Roman Catholicism (most were Protestants), and refrain from owning slaves (many were slave owners). Although Texas actually lost the Battle of the Alamo, it gained its independence by defeating Santa Anna at the  Battle of San Jacinto (Links to an external site.) .

The Battle of the Alamo was only the first part of a fascinating tale of a new nation struggling to survive the challenges of creating a government from scratch, the economic devastation of a national recession (the Panic of 1837), and the pressures of being a buffer between a traditional international power, Mexico, and a young country, the United States, that believed its destiny was to control all of North America. In light of all of these pressures, Texas chose to come into the United States in 1845, with strong political support (and some say illegal action) from many in Congress, President James K. Polk, and the proponents of Manifest Destiny. These events, and the ability of Texas to survive and thrive, contributed greatly to the independent nature that defines Texas today. This history as an independent nation makes Texas unique among all fifty states. In the 1850s, Texas adopted the main tenants of “Jacksonian Democracy,” electing rather than appointing most state officials- governors and many other state officials were elected annually (can you imagine governor running every year?)!

Not surprisingly, agriculture was particularly important to the economy in the first part of the 1800s. The most significant agricultural product during this period was cotton.

Historical Influences 1860-1900

While every experience that you have contributes to who you are, some experiences are more memorable and leave a more lasting impact than others. A particularly traumatic event might leave scars that take years to heal. In a similar manner, particularly traumatic events leave their mark on a state or on the country for decades to come. The Civil War and its aftermath was just such a traumatic event for Texas and the rest of the United States. The economic, political, demographic and social consequences of these events are still evident today, more than one hundred years after their conclusion.

This period can actually be divided into three periods: The Civil War (1861-1865), Reconstruction (1865-1876), and Post-Reconstruction (1876-1900). In 1861, the state of Texas voted to secede from the United States and join the Confederate States of America. Like most of the southern states, this decision was made on the assumption that there would be limited resistance from the United States. When the limited resistance turned into a four-year war claiming more than 600,000 lives and millions of dollars in resources, emotions ran high. At its core, the Civil War was about the efforts of some states to have policies and pass laws that were contrary to the interests and laws of the national government. This was about the power of the state vs. the power of the national government, including their roles in slavery. This period reinforced the dislike of a strong centralized government in Texas that was initially established under the dictatorship of Santa Anna in Mexico. The experience with Abraham Lincoln and the federal government was no better. It also re-enforced the historically independent culture. Northern troops defeated the Confederacy in the spring of 1865, and federal troops arrived in Texas on June 19 of that year, bringing the news of the emancipation of the 250,000 slaves in the state. This date, known as “Juneteenth” is celebrated across Texas and throughout other states as well.

The second period is known as “Reconstruction.” During this period, the national government basically ran, and controlled, everything in Texas. The name Reconstruction comes from the desire to “reconstruct” or rebuild the nation by reincorporating the southern states into the United States. We would tear down the old South and rebuild it better, in the image of the rest of the country. After the Civil War, from 1866 to 1869, Texas was under the military rule of former Union General Phillip Sheridan, appointed by the Republican Johnson administration in Washington. As one would expect, the appointment of a Union General to govern Texas was not recieved well in the state!

During this time, the state was under military rule. In 1869, an election was held in which the only people who could vote were those who had NOT fought on the side of the South in the Civil War. That meant the electorate was mostly former slaves and “Carpetbaggers” from the North. Not surprisingly, these folks elected a Republican governor (Edmond J. Davis, a former soldier in the Union Army) who violated most of the principles native Texans held dear: he centralized power, raised taxes, and took over control of local schools, further angering native Texans. By the end of this period of reconstruction (mid-1870’s), and during the period of post-reconstruction, native Texans had developed a bitter attitude toward Republicans, African-Americans, Yankees, and the national government. Those views continued to dominate Texas politics for the next one hundred years.

Beginning with the election of 1872, Texans began to take back control of their state. In that year, they elected a Democratic majority to the state legislature. That majority almost impeached Governor Davis. In 1873 Governor Davis was defeated by Democrat Richard Coke, but refused to leave the office. He barricaded himself in it, surrounded himself with federal troops and waited for President Grant to send help. Grant refused and Davis was finally removed from office.

The remaining part of the nineteenth century (1875-99) saw the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and other agencies, groups and regulations designed to remove African-Americans, Hispanics and others with little money from the political process. The ideology of White supremacy, fueled by highly charged reactions to Reconstruction, led to the deaths of approximately 500 African Americans as a result of mob violence during this period.

The political climate continued to favor business and the elite in both manufacturing and farming.  As manufacturing increased with the rise of the railroad across the state, laws in favor of corporations and against organized labor were common.  Similarly, the system favored large landowners at the expense of their tenant farmers (who represented the majority of farm labor at the time).  Tenant farmers paid for the privilege of working the land and often lost money in the process (with no safety net).  The National Grange was founded in the late 1800s to address such financial challenges for farmers with little power.  The Texas Grange was founded in 1872 and became influential in the state both in terms of its 1876 constitution and the establishment of Texas A&M (then college) University.

Basically, from 1872 until the 1970s, more than one hundred years, Texas remained a Democratic-controlled state because of what happened from 1860-1873. For generations, the Republican Party was known as the Party of Lincoln and Reconstruction that tried to take over the state. Whenever the Republican Party would try to appeal to Rural Texans, those voters would be reminded of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and efforts to end segregation, and they would return to the Democratic fold.

In the 1890s, the Populist Movement spread across the country. This was an effort to create a third party dedicated to uniting the farmers and rural voters with the urban worker to create a true working class party. However, in Texas and other Southern states,this effort was defeated because rural whites had no interest coming together with former slaves. Republicans in Texas tried to appeal to rural White voters as they did in the rest of the country, but Democrats would always remind those White voters of Republican actions during Reconstruction and they would return to the Democratic party. Interestingly, although the author (L. Frank Baum) denied it, many believe The Wizard of Oz, is an allegory about the Populist Movement with the scarecrow representing the farmers, the tin man the urban worker and Dorothy the heartland of rural America. Some even suggest that the dog (Toto) represented those opposed to alcohol, called “teatotalers,” but I think that might be pushing it a bit and no, I do not know who or what the flying monkeys represent!

Economically, cattle was king in Texas during the latter part of the 1800s as the once dominant cotton industry began to wind down

Historical Influences 1900-1930

In the eyes of many, the picture of modern Texas is one dotted with oil rigs, natural gas wells, wild cattle, and rich oil barons. Oil is a central part of Texas culture and the Texas mystique. However, the oil boom in Texas is a phenomenon of the twentieth century. The first big oil strike took place in East Texas, at a place called  Spindle Top (Links to an external site.), in 1901. At approximately 10:30 a.m. on January 10, 1901, the Hamill Brothers of Corsicana, Texas struck oil. Oil sprayed over one hundred feet in the air for nine days until it was capped!

Spindletop and the “Lucas Gusher” changed the face of Texas economics and politics forever. The abundance of oil meant newfound wealth for hundreds and the creation of such oil companies as Mobile, Gulf, Texaco, and Sun Oil Company, and the development of a new class that dominated economics and politics for decades. In light of this newfound wealth, Texas became very pro-business, with very low business taxes and a business-friendly environment. Further, the abundance of oil meant that Texas could rely on the severance tax for revenues without burdening the oil companies with business taxes or the citizens with an income tax. Revenues from the oil industry also improved the schools, roads and public safety. While these new wealthy people might have been Republicans in another state, the memories of the Civil War and Reconstruction created the conservative (pro-business) Democrat who would rule politics in Texas and throughout the American South for decades to come.

This period established the dominance of pro-business interests in Texas politics, often at the expense of other interests (like labor, the poor, the environment, etc.). In Texas, in order to succeed in politics, you needed to be a pro-business Democrat. This was a bit unique among southern states-in many other southern states race played a significantly stronger role in defining a conservative Democrat (anti-integration, pro-segregation). Race mattered, but so did supporting oil -Texas Tea!

Efforts to restrict voting in Texas around the turn of the century (early 1900s) focused on preventing everyone poor from voting, not just former slaves and African-Americans. Texas did not discriminate in its discrimination, but rather wanted to keep anyone poor who might want to change things, from voting. During this time, voters had to pay a poll tax in order to cast a ballot, and by 1923, counties were required to restrict primary election participation to Whites only.  The desired suppression of poor and minority voters was realized, and  we still live with the results of this today in terms of low voter participation.

Finally, this time period also gave us a propensity for low taxes. Because oil was so plentiful and raised so much revenue for the state (severance tax), the state did not need to raise additional money. The state has a low sales tax, but no corporate or individual state income tax. We got used to not having to pay taxes. However, when the oil industry went into a tailspin, it really hurt the needs of the state.

Historical Influences 1930-1970

Most of the key historical events in Texas prior to the 1930s tended to reinforce the generally independent and conservative attitudes developed during the period of Mexican occupation and fight for independence. Abuses of power by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (1861-65), the Radical Republicans (1866- 69) and Governor E.J. Davis (1869-74) reinforced the natural tendencies of Texans to oppose strong centralized governments. The discovery of oil and the wealth it generated in the early part of the twentieth century created an influential class of Texans who had little or no need for government assistance or regulation, as well as a population that was not subject to high government taxes.


The economic depression of the 1930s was the first historical event that raised significant questions about Texas’s opposition to strong and active governments. With the 1929 stock market crash, Texas and the rest of the United States plunged into the worst economic depression up to or since that time. Unemployment soared, savings disappeared, and people committed suicide. For the first time, Texans willingly turned to government for help. Texans turned to the state government in Austin, electing the only true liberal to ever serve as governor of Texas in the person of Ross S. Sterling (1936-38), and the Texas state government turned to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his National Recovery Act programs.

President Roosevelt and the national government provided poor Texans with roads, electricity and services never before provided, further strengthening the link between Texans in East and South Texas and the Democratic Party. This gave rise to more moderate Democrats who believed not only should government take care of business, it should also take care of individuals – the Depression created needy folks out of people who had been self-sufficient and changed some minds. Many Texans got jobs in government programs, stood in government soup lines, and accepted government pensions. Texas Democrats of the 1950s and 1960s were a function of two things: hatred of Abraham Lincoln and Reconstruction or gratitude to Franklin Roosevelt and the programs of the New Deal. However, these same programs also pushed a wedge between the national Democrats and more conservative Texans in the Metroplex, West Texas, and Harris County that voters in the 1950s called Shivercrats- Democrats who voted for Democrat Alan Shivers for Governor, but Republican Dwight Eisenhower for President. This eventually led to the rebirth of the Republican party in Texas and the eventual election of Governors George W. Bush and Rick Perry (a former Democrat).

Toward the end of this era, the New Deal Coalition (created by Roosevelt) was expanded by the Great Society Programs of President Lyndon Johnson. These programs, namely the creation of Medicaid and Medicare, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, greatly increased the political activity and participation of minorities (Hispanics and African-Americans) in the Democratic Party of Texas. It also gave the moderate wing of the party described above more influence.

However, in a backlash, it also caused many lifelong conservative Democrats to finally make the shift to the Republican Party. Their party identification finally caught up with their views and their votes. The first Republican elected statewide since Reconstruction was John Tower, elected to the United States Senate in 1961 (replacing Lyndon Johnson who became Kennedy’s Vice President). It would not be until a decade and a half later (1978) that another Republican would be elected statewide when Bill Clements was elected Governor. However, after that, the governorship switched back and forth between the two parties every four years until the Republicans won in 1994 with George W. Bush and have held on to it since then. In 2002, Republicans also took over majorities in the Texas House and Senate. With the Presidential election of Governor George W. Bush in 2000, Lt. Governor Rick Perry became Governor in 2001 and has won re-election an unprecedented three times (2002, 2006 and 2010) since then, keeping the office in Republican hands. In 2013, Republicans held all key state offices, majorities in the Texas House and Senate, both US Senate seats and a majority of Texas seats in the US House of Representatives.

The 2009/ 2010 rise of the Tea Party, a faction of primarily Republicans who hold tightly to conservative values of lower taxes, lower business regulation and conservative positions on social issues, has redefined the Republican party in the state and may portend problems in the future as they clash with more pragmatic members of their party. Following the re-election of President Barack Obama, a significant number of Texans signed an electronic petition urging the state to secede from the United States. Governor Abbott, at the urging Tea Party legislators, has signed an Executive Order to support a National Constitutional Amendment dedicated to limiting the power of the federal government.

Additional Reading

Clark, James Anthony & Halbouty, Michel T., (March 1999). Spindletop: The True Story of the Oil Discovery That Changed the World. Gulf Publishing Company.

Hayes, Stephen (2016). “A New Era in Conservative Politics; The Lasting Influence of the Tea Party Movement (Links to an external site.)“. (

Year Each State Was Admitted to the Union

Over a two hundred year span, the United States has grown from thirteen weak and uncooperative colonies with under 3 million people to a world leader with fifty independent, but interdependent states and almost 300 million people. Each state came into the union at different times and under different circumstances. Texas was the 28th state to come into the union, with Iowa entering a day later. Presidential candidate James K. Polk, a proponent of Manifest Destiny, made the expansion of the United States a central part of his campaign for the presidency in 1844. Interestingly, Texas is the only state accepted into the union with a simple majority vote in Congress. The thirteen original colonies wear that status with the same pride that Texas wears its nine years of independent nation status.

Importance of Population, Size, Growth, and Density

As Texans are fond of saying, everything is bigger in Texas. This is also true of the Texas population. As of the beginning of the twenty-first Century only one state, California, had a larger population than Texas. In 2012, the population of Texas exceeded 26 million people. In some ways that is a good thing – because of economies of scale, government costs less per person in a large state (the cost is calculated across more tax payers). Indeed, the cost of government in Texas is second lowest in the country, second only to, you guessed it, California. A second benefit of size is that large states generally have a more diverse economy, not relying on a single industry to get by. If the energy industry tanks, the state can look to the service industry. If that turns downward, there are jobs in technology fields.


While growth is generally a good thing, growth that is too fast can be a problem. Just as you probably outgrew your clothes faster than your parents could afford to replace them when you were younger, cities that grow too fast often find it hard to stay ahead of their needs. Why do you think that roads in Arlington are constantly under construction or you have houses built among businesses and pawnshops? Arlington grew too fast for the streets and the zoning regulations to keep up. If a state grows too quickly, services cannot keep up with demand. For example, by the time a new prison is built, it is already too small. From 2000-2010, the state’s population grew by 20.6%, ranking it in the top five of the fifty states in growth rate – if growth continues, even finding sufficient water supplies may well be a problem. Texas has also been one of the few states to continue to grow during the Recession of 2008-2011 as people moved to Texas in search of lower taxes and jobs.

Total 2015 Population by State The number of people residing in a state is usually an indicator of the professionalism and activism of the government. States with a large population are usually aggressive, professional and provide numerous services demanded by the population. Further, large populations suggest that government services could be provided at a lower cost per person. However, Texas, which is the second largest state in the United States, does not fit this model. Instead, it has a government that is nonprofessional and does not provide the services necessary to govern a state of just over 20 million.

Urbanization of the Population

Further, as the population of Texas becomes more dense (more people living in the city), the demands on government necessarily grow. There is a greater demand for sanitation, public safety, public transportation, good roads and zoning regulation. Up until the middle of last century, a majority of Texans lived in rural areas, small towns or small communities. By the 1950s with the booming urban growth following World War II, that changed. In 1960, more than two-thirds of all Texans lived in an urban or suburban area. By 2010, that percentage was up to 84 percent, or almost 17 out of twenty Texans! ( (Links to an external site.)).

As Texas becomes more urban and less rural, the demands on and the nature of government are going to have to change. Urban areas require a much larger percentage of services, even as simple as sanitation. If everyone is in twenty-story apartment buildings, you can’t just go out to the outhouse like you could in the country. Crime is higher. There is a need for childcare that must be regulated, etc.. The urban areas also tend to be more Democratic, while suburban areas tend to be more Republican, but they are Boardroom Republicans, leaving the more rural Bedroom Republicans in the dust. The question is whether or not Texans are ready or willing to pay for those changes. My guess is they are not, but time will tell!

Urbanization (Residents per square mile) in the Fifty States and District of Columbia in 2015 One of the most significant differences between states, as well as within a state is the degree to which the citizens live in rural or metropolitan areas. The demand for services from government are much different and greater in states where most of the people live in urban areas. The most common measure of this urbanization is the number of citizens per square mile. Although Texas is known for wide open ranges, most people live in the cities and the population is more densely populated in Texas than in over half of the states (Texas ranks 24th). Most Texans do not fit the stereotype of the cowboy on the range, but rather live in a suburban home or an urban apartment.


Like the rest of the country, Texas is getting older. In 2015, more than one in ten Texans was over the age of sixty-five (12%). In ten years, that percentage is expected to rise another two percent (13.5%)  One hundred years ago, that was 4%. In the next twenty years it is expected to rise to above twenty percent. How will that affect Texas politics? The effects are likely to be dramatic, considering that the elderly vote more regularly than almost any other group, particularly more than college students! The amount of money spent on programs that benefit the elderly (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, supplemental insurance, home health care, etc.) is likely to continue to rise, while the money spent on programs of greatest concern to younger voters (education, the environment, etc.) is likely to remain stable or even decline. Elderly Americans and Texans are organized and active ( as long as their proportion of the population continues to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the population, you can expect their influence to be felt on political fronts.


The education level of the population is critical in understanding politics. First, education is the best single predictor of voting in this country. The less education you have, the less likely you are to vote. If you have a college degree or higher, you are quite likely to vote. If you do not have a high school diploma, you are much less likely to vote. This makes it easy to understand how Texas can maintain the traditionalistic culture-elites don’t want most people to vote and with a lower education level, most of them don’t want to vote anyway. About half of the population of the state of Texas does not have any college level education.

This is also true for skill levels-over a quarter of the population of Texas scores are at the lowest levels in reading and writing. This means that it will be very difficult to recruit high paying jobs (and, therefore a high tax base) to the state. Further, in states with lower education levels, taxes are usually higher for the poor (regressive taxes) because they don’t vote enough to stop them. Finally, an uneducated population requires greater services, especially regarding job training, welfare, etc. This is particularly true for areas like the border, West Texas, and East Texas. Education levels are higher in the center of the state (the Dallas, Austin, San Antonio corridor), but problematic in other parts.

High School Completion Rates, 2014 If the work force of a state is to compete in today’s highly competitive market, those citizens need to be educated. Unfortunately, the population of Texas is among the least educated in the country and the future does not look much better. One in seven Texans between the age of 16 and 19 can be considered high school drop outs. These students and the regions they live in are generally doomed to low paying, menial jobs that are becoming less and less common in America. Only Nevada and Arizona have a higher drop out rate.

Percent of Population With a Bachelor’s Degree or More in 2014 While a high school diploma was once a significant sign of educational achievement, it is now primarily a ticket to either a low paying job or a four or two year college degree. States with more of their citizens in college can expect to attract better jobs and companies, and the tax that they bring. As in the rest of the South, Texans are less likely to attend college than are non-Southern Americans. Just over a quarter of all Texans over the age of 25 have a four your college degree, placing the state in the bottom quarter of the country.

Ethnic Diversity

It is often said that the United States is a melting pot, with all different cultures, races and ethnic groups melting together to form one nation. While this has never really been true in the United States, it is even less true in Texas. Texas is more diverse then most states, but that diversity has not resulted in a unified “stew,” but rather a “smorgasbord” in which each cultural or ethnic group has maintained its identity and contributed something unique to the Texas culture. Texas is so diverse that it has the third highest percentage of nonwhite citizens of all fifty states. In 2000, only 53% of Texans were considered Anglo and that percentage is expected to decline even further in the next thirty years. It declined from 53% to 42% between 2000 and 2015. People of Hispanic origin make up over forty percent of the population, and that percentage is rapidly increasing. It is estimated that by 2020, Latinos (42.4%) will outnumber Anglos (39.0%) in the state. It is expected that the proportion of African Americans in the state will remain relatively constant at about 11 percent. Hispanics are expected to soon make up a plurality (more than any other group), but not a majority (more than half) of the population of Texas.

Combined Latino and African Americans will comprise well over half of the population in 2020- think how those changes might affect elections and policies in the Lone Star state. Further, think about the implications for 2050 when it is projected that more than half of all Texans will be Hispanic/ Latino. If Hispanics continue to vote overwhelmingly Democratic, this could mean a significant change in Texas- stay tuned!

Texas Ethnic Populations, Past Present and Future (1990-2050)

How does this diversity affect Texas and Texas politics? Like diversity in a relationship, it can be positive but challenging. Each group makes unique contributions to the society. However, these unique contributions also mean differences in beliefs, values, principles, priorities, and needs. For example, while bilingual education may be of little importance to African-American or Anglo-Texans, it is of considerable importance to Texans of Hispanic origin. Whereas Anglos may view affirmative action as antiquated or unnecessary, many Hispanics and African Americans view it as a necessary and integral part of the role of government. As Texas becomes even more diverse in the future, we can expect increasing conflicts and battles on political fronts. Texas has generally been ruled by, and for, Anglo Americans. However, with the increasing numbers and political clout of ethnic minorities, such governing will not be possible in the future. Texas will have to find some way to build coalitions and compromises where conflict is sure to exist.

What about participation-how will one change affect another? Traditionally, Hispanics and African-Americans vote less than Whites, so one would expect a continued decline in participation. However, as these groups, especially Hispanics, became a bigger part of the population and see their views and ethnicity reflected in public policy, perhaps they will begin to vote at a higher rate. As this happens, both parties will try to increase their appeal to the Hispanic voters.

Proportion of Whites in Each State in 2014 States with a homogeneous (similar) population find governing different and usually much easier than states with significant ethnic diversity. With a population that is overwhelmingly White, there is little need to offer services to minority groups or even give much attention to their issues or their votes. Texas has a very diverse population. Almost thirty percent of the population is neither Hispanic nor White (White is defined to include Hispanic). This means that policies can no longer benefit only Whites if the officials want to continue being elected.

Proportion of African American Population in 2014 Not surprisingly, the proportion of African Americans in a state is highest in former states of the Confederacy (the South). Over a third of the people in Mississippi are African American. While African Americans are only the second largest minority group in Texas, behind Hispanics, they do make up more than ten percent of the population. Generally states with a large African American population can expect lower political participation, a traditionalistic culture and political pressure to help minorities. Much of this is true about Texas. Interestingly, while their numbers are growing, the proportion of the population that is African American is declining (by over a percent in the last five years) because of the rapid growth of the Hispanic population. Do you think that will matter in the future?

Proportion of Hispanic American Population in 2014 Americans of Hispanic descent are the fastest growing minority group in America. Their presence is particularly prominent in California, New Mexico and Texas. Almost forty percent of all citizens in Texas are of Mexican or Hispanic heritage. This has a dramatic effect on the nature of politics and policy in the state. Texas has more Hispanic candidates and elected officials than most other states, and such issues as bilingual education and immigration policy take on an urgent meaning in such states. Such policies have little consequences and carry little weight in West Virginia!!


The economy of a state influences every aspect of that state’s government, just as your economic status influences every aspect of your life. It is where dreams meet reality (just as you may want to buy a Jaguar, but your income requires you buy a Hyundai). It determines how much you can spend, your sources of revenue, and where you choose to spend that money. In a similar manner, the economic context of a state determines the size of government in that state, as well as where it can get its money. Further, the economic context determines expenditures by influencing not only how much money there is, but also how much the states need to spend. The irony, much like family incomes, is that states that have the most often don’t need to spend it and those with little, need it the most.


The first thing you want to think about in terms of economics is the natural resources of the state-does the state itself provide an economic boost? Historically, Texas has had three dominant natural resources: cotton (before 1850), cattle (1850-1900), and oil/ natural gas (post-1900). Before 1850, cotton was one of the major economic engines of the state and provided somewhat of a buffer in the post-Civil War era that enabled Texas to rebuild and recover more quickly than other former Confederate states. From about 1850 until the turn of the century “cattle was king.” The cattle barons (those who owned cattle) controlled the economy, the politics-everything during this era. Finally, as the importance of cattle declined a bit, oil was discovered in Texas.


From the early 1900s, oil and natural gas became important. The presence of a natural resource makes it easier to fund government, because it provides revenue at a very limited cost. Up until the early 1980s, Texas really could rely on its natural resources to fund many things. In fact, up until 1981, more than 25% of all revenues generated in the state came from the natural resources industry. For example, for years college in Texas was funded by the PUF Fund (Permanent University Funds)- which was funded by oil money. It meant college tuition was very low and taxes were low. Now, the vast majority of revenues and jobs in Texas are in the service industry (ranging from banking to janitorial services) or retail sales (sales at the Gap or The Limited or McDonald’s).

The Texas economy is now much more diverse, therefore, a recession like that of the 1980s with a crash of oil prices is unlikely because there are numerous types of jobs, so if a recession hits one area it can be balanced by another. Economic diversity also means the government has more resources to tax, such as taxing retailers or the oil industry or the lottery. Politically, it means that no group can control the political process as oil did for so long-there are a lot more players now. Think about Texas. In 2004, almost 17% of the state’s population was below the  federal poverty level (Links to an external site.). (If the link to the left does not work, please copy and paste it in a new browser window: (Links to an external site.))

Five border counties are among the ten poorest counties in the country. This means that Texas has greater needs and must spend money to help its impoverished population. However, that same characteristic means that the state has less money to distribute to those same poor. A poor state needs more help, but has fewer resources to meet those needs. Generally, Texas has higher unemployment than average and lower income levels. In the past, Texas could rely on natural resources like cattle, cotton and oil to help supplement these weaknesses. Those things are gone now. What could replace those resources and help the state remain strong, despite economic deficiencies?

Per Capita Personal Income in 2014 Money matters!  It matters in politics, it matters in policies and it matters in voting.  If a state has relatively low per capita incomes, then they have less tax money to provide necessary services for their people.  However, that same low income also puts greater demands on the state to provide services to the poor who need them. More bills to pay and less money to pay with!  When it comes to per capita income (average income per person), Texas is right in the middle-  half states higher and half the states lower.

Unemployment Rate in 2015

Just like per capita income, a state’s unemployment rate is an indicator of how well its economy is doing.  States that need the most help (high unemployment) generally have less money to pay for it.  During the “Great Recession” (2007-2009), Texas fared better than most of their Southern counterparts.  Unemployment in Texas stayed right at the national average.  In 2014, Texas did better than most of the other states with an unemployment rate of 4.7%- well below the national average.

Job Growth:  2015 to 2016 Job growth is important. It is a a good indicator of how well a state’s economy is doing. Texas has always prided itself on providing an environment of low taxes and regulations that would encourage job growth. According to the 2015-1016 job growth data, the strategy is generally working. With a growth rate of 1.8 percent, Texas ranked 15th of the fifty states, well below the 3.3 percent growth rate in Oregon and far above Wyoming which lost almost three percent.

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