Piece of Mind: What Happened to 'Blue Wave'?

Nov 12, 2020

Did someone suggest that Texas would be inundated by a “blue wave” of Democratic politicians seek public office in the just completed 2020 presidential election?

Wasn’t there a huge surge of anticipation that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would win the state’s 38 electoral votes on his way to a landslide win over Donald J. Trump?

I believe that happened in the weeks running up to the election.

Hmm. It didn’t happen. Neither event occurred.

The president carried Texas by roughly 6 percentage points over Biden. To be sure, the Trump-Biden gap was narrower than the 8-point victory Trump scored over Hillary Clinton in 2016; what’s more, the most recent election was far tighter than the 16-point win that GOP nominee Mitt Romney scored over President Barack Obama in 2012.

But Texas Republicans no doubt can take heart in how solidly they held onto statewide and local offices when all the ballots were tallied.

I live in Collin County, long considered one of the state’s most reliable GOP bastions. The Trump-Biden gap was far narrower than the Trump-Clinton margin four years ago.

Congressional seats held by GOP members will remain in Republican hands. A key statewide race, for Railroad Commissioner, will stay in GOP hands. The Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals? They remain all-GOP judicial benches.

Political pundits and analysts keep talking about the “changing demographics” that suggest an eventual swing from solid red to a much more competitive “purple” status for Texas. Indeed, it does appear that Texas might be turning into a more competitive state, with Republicans and Democrats competing harder for votes than they have done since the GOP took control of the state political structure more than 30 years ago.

Just how entrenched is the GOP in Northeast Texas. Consider this: The percentages that Donald Trump rang up against Biden in Hunt, Kaufman, Hopkins and Rains counties virtually mirror the margins he rolled up against Hillary Clinton four years ago.

So, whatever blue wave is set to wash over Texas – perhaps in the next election cycle of the one after that – seems to be a good bit away from soaking voters in Northeast Texas.

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.

Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.