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Political conventions are echo chambers designed to generate feelings of invincibility, sending forth the party faithful with a spring in their steps and hope in their hearts. Who would want to be a wet blanket at such moveable feasts?
Steve Munisteri would. Although he calls himself “the eternal optimist,” he respects reality, which nowadays is not conducive to conservatives’ cheerfulness. He served as chairman of the Texas Republican Party from 2010 to 2015 because he discerned “a seismic shift in demographics” that meant his state could “turn Democratic sooner than most people thought.”
The fact that Republicans have won every Texas statewide office since 1994 — the longest such streak in the nation — gives them, he says, “a false sense of security.” In 2000, Republican candidates at the top of the ticket — in statewide races — averaged about 60 percent of the vote. By 2008, they averaged less than 53 percent. And Republican down-ballot winners averaged slightly over 51 percent.
Texas is not wide open spaces filled with cattle and cotton fields. Actually, it is 84.7 percent urban, making it the 15th most urban state. It has four of the nation’s 11 largest cities — Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. Texas’ growth is in its cities, where Republicans are doing worst.
Dallas has gone from solidly Republican to solidly Democratic. A recent poll showed Harris County (Houston), which is 69 percent minority, with a majority identifying as Democrats. The San Antonio metropolitan area is about three-quarters minority. Travis County (Austin, seat of the state government, the flagship state university and a burgeoning tech economy attracting young people) voted 60.1 percent for Barack Obama in 2012.