It would be the biggest political shakeup in Texas in nearly two decades – snapping Republicans’ long control of the House, Senate and governor’s office. And it seemed like it might be within reach.
Democrats needed to hold the 12 seats they picked up in 2018 – and win nine more. They poured money into races around the state.
“Democrats gave it a really good try,” Rice University political science professor Mark Jones said. “The difficulty is they’re still in a Republican state and a majority of the voters in many of these districts are still Republican-leaning.”
Jones said some of those Republicans did vote for a Democrat: Joe Biden.
Ultimately, as returns came in, Democrats were at least a few seats short of turning the House blue.
Jones said the outcome will have long-term implications, since next year is a redistricting year, when state lawmakers redraw district lines for seats in Congress and the state legislature.
If the House flipped and the legislative chambers were divided – and the redistricting process gridlocked – the courts could end up redrawing those lines. That won’t be likely now if Republicans control both the Senate and the House.
“They’ll be able to draw tailor-made districts to maximize the number of Republicans who are elected,” Jones said.
For that reason, he said, this election might have been Democrats’ best chance to flip the House for a while.
Mallory Falk is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Got a tip? Email Mallory at Mfalk@kera.org. You can follow Mallory on Twitter @MalloryFalk.