Texas is set to gain a lot of political clout over the next several years thanks to the state's rapid population growth, but there are questions about which political party will benefit from that clout. For years, Texas politics have been dominated by Republicans. The state hasn't gone Democrat in a presidential election since 1976, and no Democrat has won statewide office since 1994. However, the continued growth of the state's Hispanic population has given Democrats hope that they can "turn Texas blue" or at least make it competitive in the years to come. A new Washington Post analysis predicts Texas will gain as many as six Congressional seats by 2060, thanks to population growth. If that happens, the Lone Star State would be second only to California in Congressional seats.
Texas Republican Consultant Matt Mackowiak believes there is some cause for concern by the GOP based on the population trends. "If the Republican party continues to win only about a third of the Hispanic vote, then yes, Texas is going to be very competitive if not Democratic in 30, 40, 50 years," he tells KTRH. However, Mackowiak doesn't believe the notion that Texas is in danger of becoming the next California. "Ted Cruz' campaign believes he won 42% of the Hispanic vote in 2012, if you look at what Rick Perry has done with Hispanics, if you look at what George W. Bush did in Texas with the Hispanic vote, we've always won a larger percentage of Hispanic votes in Texas than (Republicans) have nationally."
Still, there is one big elephant in the room that could cause problems for the GOP in Texas like it has in California--illegal immigration. "Ultimately, the Republican Party has to solve the immigration issue," says Mackowiak. He sees immigration trumping other issues like economics and abortion where the GOP message would resonate with Hispanic voters. "My guess is we will not get a solution on immigration until 2015, but we need to do it soon," he says. "Because we've got to put that issue to bed so we can really begin to focus on the Hispanic vote, which is growing very rapidly not just in Texas but across the country."