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Thursday, May 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Clinton Narrowed Gap With Trump in Texas

HOUSTON (CN) — Though Donald Trump easily carried Texas, as expected in a state where a Democratic presidential candidate hasn't won since 1976, Democrats saw a silver lining in a Republican margin of victory that was the lowest in decades.

Trump won the Lone Star State's prized 38 electoral votes, second most behind California's 55, and easily defeated Democratic rival Hillary Clinton with his more than 4.6 million votes in Tuesday's election.

But Trump's roughly 9-percent victory margin over Clinton was the lowest for any Republican presidential candidate in the state in 20 years, since Republican nominee Bob Dole won by 5 points in 1996.

"We have brought this state a long, long way," Garry Mauro, Clinton's Texas campaign chair, said Tuesday night at a poll-watch gathering, as reported by Austin's NPR affiliate. "And I want you to think about that because we didn't do it, because the national campaign sent hundreds of people down here. We didn't do it because they sent millions of dollars worth of TV. We did it because we had great, indigenous Texans going door to door and making a difference for Hillary Clinton."

Pundits predicted Trump's harsh stance on immigration could hurt him in a state with a 39 percent Hispanic population, and 4.8 million eligible Hispanic voters, but 34 percent of Hispanic voters in Texas cast their ballot for the real estate mogul. Many of those supporters cited their religious values as being in line with Trump's anti-abortion stance.

Houston, the state's most populous city, proved to be a sweet spot for Democrats as did Texas' other biggest cities. A map showing which party won each of Texas' 254 counties is awash in red with islands of blue representing the home counties of Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, Houston and Austin.

Fifteen South Texas counties also went Democrat, indicative of a backlash of the region's majority Hispanic population against Trump's campaign-trail promises to build a wall on the Mexico border and tap a deportation force to remove the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, goals that Republican Party officials dismissed after Trump won the election as logistical non-starters.

Harris County, home to Houston, saw record numbers of early voters for the general election. Clinton beat Trump by more than 89,000 votes in the county, and the county's district attorney and sheriff, both Republican incumbents, suffered upsets that experts say could stem from Democrats casting straight-ticket ballots.

Democrats made minor inroads in the Texas Legislature, picking up four seats in the Texas House in an election in which all its 150 seats were in play. The status quo won the day in the Texas House as 127 incumbents held on to their seats, including attorney Ron Reynolds, who was convicted of five counts of misdemeanor barratry and illegally soliciting legal clients and sentenced to one year in jail in November 2015. Reynolds is free pending his appeal.

Republicans still hold a firm grip on the Texas Legislature. They won 95 of the 150 seats in the Texas House and eight spots in the Texas Senate, giving them a 19 to 11 majority in the Senate.

The GOP majority will likely bolster Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's vow to push for legislation during the next session, which starts in January, mandating that transgender Texans use public bathrooms matching the gender on their birth certificates.

"It's not about the transgender issue, it's not about discrimination, it's about protecting women," Patrick said about his proposed Women's Privacy Act.

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