Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. We've got full coverage of redistricting in Texas. Want to see which districts your home is in? Check out the new Texas political maps here.
The intensity with which Texas Republicans are struggling against demographic tides as they redraw the state's congressional districts can best be seen in their new maps for the Dallas-Fort Worth region, specifically its suburbs.
For decades, suburban communities offered the GOP solid political ground. But census figures demonstrate the state is growing away from Republicans, with nearly all of its population gains coming within communities of color more likely to support Democrats.
That shift has reached the suburbs. In a bid to hold the political turf, Republicans zeroed in on communities with high shares of potential voters of color and grafted them onto massive districts dominated by white voters.
That sort of surgical targeting is strikingly captured by the changes to the 33rd and 6th congressional districts, which diminish the influence Hispanic voters have in choosing their representatives in Congress.
A significant portion of the Hispanic voting age population in the suburban cities between Dallas and Fort Worth was previously in CD-33, represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey. The district stretched from Fort Worth in Tarrant County, across suburban communities like Arlington and Grand Prairie and into Irving’s heavily Hispanic neighborhoods on the west side of Dallas County.
Despite its odd shape, CD-33 was actually drawn by a three-judge federal panel a decade ago to protect the voting rights of people of color in the area. That panel devised a district in which Hispanics made up the largest demographic group, but it offered Hispanic or Black voters an equal chance to elect their preferred candidate. Veasey won that job.
A decade later, Hispanics made up a large majority of the district’s voting age population and were just shy of the majority of eligible voters, which includes citizens only. But under the Republicans’ new map, many of those voters are sunk into a starkly different political reality.
Republicans reconfigured part of CD-33 to shore up another neighboring GOP district, but that left behind Hispanic areas around Irving. They looked south and saw a swath of rural, mostly white counties. To connect them, they extended a bizarre finger northward into Dallas County, picked off the Democratic-leaning areas and melded them into a different district — CD-6 .
The previous CD-6 included just three counties — all of Navarro and Ellis counties and a diverse portion of southeast Tarrant County. Though it was drawn as a solid GOP district, it saw thinner Republican margins of victory in recent elections; former President Donald Trump won just 53% of the vote in 2020.
In a bid to shore up CD-6, giving it a hypothetical 24-point margin of victory for Trump, the Republicans’ revamp of the district significantly stretched its footprint — including five more counties to the south and east.
That engineering boosts white voters’ control of the district while stranding Hispanic voters who in the past were concentrated enough to influence election outcomes.
The manipulation at the expense of voters of color is not limited to these districts. Throughout the North Texas region, diverse neighborhoods were shifted into sprawling districts that stretch into more rural areas with majority white electorates.
The demographic change map-drawers are contending with has transformed the area so forcefully over the last decade that their new districts even carve up neighborhoods densely populated with Asian Texans, whose small but growing numbers were beginning to translate into electoral influence.
Though they make up just a sliver of the state’s total population, Asian Texans have seen the most rapid growth over the last decade compared to other demographic groups. They’ve made particular headway in areas like Collin County, one of the fastest-growing in the state, where they contributed significantly to the county’s population gains.
A large concentration of the Asian voting age population in Collin County was previously contained in the 3rd Congressional District and represented by U.S. Rep. Van Taylor, a Republican. The suburban district skewed so heavily for the GOP that Taylor’s predecessor ran without a Democratic challenger in 2012 and 2014.
But the Republican margin of victory narrowed significantly in recent elections. Taylor won reelection with just 55% of the vote; Trump won the district by just 1 percentage point.
In response, Republicans forced a complete reconfiguration of the district, almost surgically sketching lines around neighborhoods densely populated by potential Asian voters.
Under Republicans’ new map, many of those Asian residents now reside in the new 4th Congressional District, which used to contain just a small share of Collin County’s population. In reaching in to pick up their neighborhoods, CD-4 grew its total Asian population from roughly 15,000 in its previous configuration to more than 98,000.
But Asian voters will see the strength of their votes diminished in a district in which white residents make up a whopping 74.3% of eligible voters.
In the previous CD-3, the share of Asian eligible voters had reached 10.8%.
The new maps cut it roughly in half to 5.3%.
Correction, Oct. 27, 2021: Some of the map scale bars in this story previously listed the wrong number of miles on smaller screen sizes. These have been corrected.