The Impeachment Effect, A Senate Race And The Census: Texas Politics In 2020

Three political experts join host David Brown for a glimpse at what’s ahead for Texas politics in the new year.

By Rhonda FanningJanuary 1, 2020 9:30 am

It’s the start of a new year – and a new decade. For a look at what Texans can expect in politics in 2020, three experts joined Texas Standard Host David Brown for a roundtable discussion: Lauren McGaughy, investigative reporter for The Dallas Morning News; Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science at the University of Houston; and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, director of civic engagement and a lecturer at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

On the impeachment effect

“Unless the impeachment discussion … produces new information and has a kind of sizzle factor, I think it’s not going to have a tremendous effect, but it’s definitely going to keep on peeling moderates, and leaning Republicans away from the Republican Party, and possibly towards the Democratic Party,” Rottinghaus says.

On political changes in Texas
“This isn’t like flipping a coin,” McGaughy says. “A lot of the change is down to demographics that have been changing over the last decade, and those change very slowly …. The bellwether we’re obviously looking at is the Texas House of Representatives. It has been solidly red for a couple of decades, and it has a chance to flip blue.”

On the chance that a Democrat will beat Republican Sen. John Cornyn
“I do think he’s vulnerable,” Rottinghaus says.

On diversity among Senate candidates

“The candidates who didn’t get the nod from the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] are saying that they represent the new Texas. … There is a tremendous amount energy out there from young, and ethnically and racially diverse Texans.”

On the importance at the 2020 census
“It’s the districting, but it’s also how we allocate federal money for dozens of programs that affect us day to day,” DeFrancesco Soto says. “It doesn’t matter what party you are; we’re all using the same resources.”

On a lack of transparency when it comes to lawmakers discussing the census
“There was a bill passed in the 2019 legislative session that basically put legislative communications into a black box,” McGaughy says. “When I asked the author about it, he made it very clear that this was done in advance of the redistricting effort.”


Written by Caroline Covington.