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State Redistricting Profile: Texas

Here’s how Texas’s demographics have changed since the last time maps were drawn — and what those changes mean for this decade’s redistricting cycle.

Published: October 8, 2021
View the entire Redistricting and Changing Demographics in Key States series

The Texas legis­lature has convened in a special session to pass new state legis­lat­ive and congres­sional district maps. The purpose of this process is to account for popu­la­tion changes that have occurred over the past decade as meas­ured by recently released 2020 Census data. In Texas, these changes have been signi­fic­ant, with the state’s popu­la­tion grow­ing by 13.7 percent, from 25,145,561 to 29,145,505 people, between 2010 and 2020.

As in 2011, when districts were last drawn, Repub­lican lawmakers in Texas have complete control over the process. But the legal land­scape has shif­ted for the worse since then. Because a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck down a key provi­sion of the Voting Rights Act, for the first time in six decades Texas will no longer be required to obtain preapproval of maps from the U.S. Depart­ment of Justice or a federal court in Wash­ing­ton, DC, to ensure that they do not discrim­in­ate by race. And in a 2019 ruling, the Supreme Court also fore­closed the possib­il­ity that federal courts could serve as a back­stop to partisan gerry­man­der­ing, no matter how brazen or extreme.

Thus, Texas’s 150 state house, 31 state senate, and 38 congres­sional districts are being drawn under single-party control without crit­ical safe­guards against racial discrim­in­a­tion or partisan abuses. This analysis summar­izes Texas’s major popu­la­tion trends of the last decade, both statewide and in its major urban hubs, and exam­ines their redis­trict­ing implic­a­tions.

High­lights:

  • Nonwhite Texans and those report­ing two or more races collect­ively account for 95 percent of the 3,999,944 people that Texas added to its popu­la­tion between 2010 and 2020.
  • The Latino popu­la­tion came within half a percent­age point of surpass­ing the white popu­la­tion as the largest demo­graphic group in Texas, adding a stag­ger­ing 1,980,796 people over the decade.
  • Eighty-six percent of Texas’s popu­la­tion gains are in and around three major metro areas — the Dallas–­Fort Worth metroplex, Hous­ton, and Austin–San Anto­nio. These rapidly expand­ing cities and their grow­ing suburbs far outpaced the rest of Texas, and collect­ively they now have numbers to support four addi­tional state house districts and two addi­tional congres­sional districts.
  • Of the 20 fast­est-grow­ing counties, 13 were suburban counties where the white share of the popu­la­tion decreased over the last decade by up to 16 percent. foot­note1_oacjfxk 1 Of the thir­teen suburban counties that added the most people from 2010 to 2020, the white share of total popu­la­tion decreased by 4.7–15.9 percent. White people no longer make up the major­ity in three of these counties and dropped below 55 percent of the popu­la­tion in an addi­tional five counties.  In recent years, nonwhite voters demon­strated an increased abil­ity to influ­ence elec­tions in these suburbs. One issue to watch during Texas’s redis­trict­ing will be whether this growth trans­lates into addi­tional elect­oral oppor­tun­it­ies for communit­ies of color or whether the polit­ical estab­lish­ment instead dilutes their grow­ing polit­ical influ­ence.

Statewide Analysis

Texas gained nearly 4 million new resid­ents from 2010 to 2020, making it by far the fast­est-grow­ing state over the last decade. foot­note2_t1f0y4m 2 2020 U.S. Census PL 94–171 redis­trict­ing data summary files and 2010 U.S. Census data show that Texas added the most people of all states between 2010 and 2020. U.S. Census Bureau 2020 Census PL 94–171 Redis­trict­ing Summary File, https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decen­nial-census/about/rdo/summary-files/2020.html and 2010 Census Summary File 1 Data, https://www.census.gov/data/data­sets/2010/dec/summary-file-1.html.  Accord­ing to estim­ates from 2019, about half of this change is attrib­ut­able to natural increase and half due to inter­na­tional immig­ra­tion and domestic in-migra­tion. foot­note3_xqit35b 3 Natural increase is estim­ated to be respons­ible for 1,871,086 of the 3,849,790 people added to Texas’s popu­la­tion between 2010 and 2019, account­ing for 49 percent of the state’s growth. The Census Bureau estim­ated a net migra­tion of 1,964,386 people to Texas from 2010 to 2019, account­ing for 51 percent of its estim­ated growth over that time period. Of in-migrants, 58 percent moved from else­where in the United States and 41 percent immig­rated from abroad. U.S. Census Bureau, “Table 4. Cumu­lat­ive Estim­ates of Resid­ent Popu­la­tion Change of the United States, Regions, State, and Puerto Rico,” avail­able at https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/popest/2010s-state-total.html.  As of 2019, Cali­for­nia, Flor­ida, and Geor­gia were the top states from which people moved to Texas, which is estim­ated to have gained more than 350,000 people from other states in that year alone. foot­note4_ofay­g67 4 U.S. Census Bureau, “Table 1. State-to-State Migra­tion Flows: 2019,” from the 2019 Amer­ican Community Survey 1-Year Estim­ates, https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/geographic-mobil­ity/state-to-state-migra­tion.html.

This substan­tial popu­la­tion growth was not distrib­uted evenly across racial and ethnic groups. Lati­nos alone are respons­ible for 50 percent of all popu­la­tion gains in Texas over the past decade, adding nearly 2 million people and fall­ing only half a percent­age point short of becom­ing the largest ethnic group in the state. Texas’s Black and Asian popu­la­tions, too, gained over half a million people each. This is in stark contrast to the moder­ate growth among Texas’s white popu­la­tion, which gained only 187,252 people in the last decade despite being the largest demo­graphic group in the state.

These demo­graphic trends hold when Texas’s citizen voting age popu­la­tion, which is often used in redis­trict­ing as a stand-in for eligible voters, is considered. More than half of the estim­ated increase in eligible voters from 2010 to 2019 were Latino, and communit­ies of color more gener­ally account for three-quar­ters of the increase. foot­note5_c35y637 5 Accord­ing to Census Bureau estim­ates, Lati­nos made up 53 percent of the added citizen voting age popu­la­tion in Texas; Black people, 15 percent; Asians, 8.7 percent; and non-Hispanic white people, 19.3 percent. U.S. Census Bureau, “Citizen Voting-Age Popu­la­tion Special Tabu­la­tion,” from the 2019 Amer­ican Community Survey 5-Year Estim­ates, https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decen­nial-census/about/voting-rights/cvap.2019.html.

The story of Texas’s demo­graphic change over the last decade also has a geographic compon­ent. Urban and suburban areas flour­ished, while rural areas and small towns held steady or shrank.

Three metro regions accoun­ted for 86 percent of all popu­la­tion growth in the state: the Dallas–­Fort Worth metroplex added 1,270,845 people; greater Hous­ton, 1,201,824 people; and Austin–San Anto­nio, 955,835 people. foot­note6_s0ht­esc 6 We use the Census Bureau’s Dallas–­Fort Worth–Ar­ling­ton and Hous­ton–The Wood­land­s–Sug­ar­land metro­pol­itan stat­ist­ical areas to define the scope of relev­ant counties in those regions. We use the Greater Austin–San Anto­nio Corridor Coun­cil’s list of included counties to define the Austin–San Anto­nio region. Greater Austin–San Anto­nio Corridor Coun­cil, “Counties & Cities,” accessed August 30, 2021, https://www.thecor­ridor.org/counties-and-cities.  Smal­ler cities contrib­uted to the growth as well. The counties contain­ing El Paso, Odessa, Laredo, Lubbock, and Corpus Christi all saw their numbers expand signi­fic­antly.

Across the rest of the state, mean­while, 143 rural counties saw their popu­la­tions decrease. Though the losses were modest, collect­ively amount­ing to a decrease of 97,062 people, the trend under­scores the need for repres­ent­a­tion to shift to cities and their suburbs.

Regional Analysis

Homing in on the urban areas that exper­i­enced the highest growth over the last decade puts a finer point on the statewide changes. The follow­ing maps show change in the nonwhite share of the popu­la­tion by census tract in the counties around Dallas–­Forth Worth, Hous­ton, and Austin–San Anto­nio. They reveal that the rapid growth of Texas’s boom­ing suburbs has been driven by communit­ies of color.

Nonwhite Share of Population in Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex, 2010–⁠20

The Dallas–­Fort Worth metro area grew more than any other Texas region from 2010 to 2020. Seventy-nine percent of that growth took place among the Black, Latino, and Asian communit­ies. The region contains 4 of the 10 fast­est-grow­ing counties in Texas, with Tarrant County, home to Fort Worth, rank­ing second in the state in abso­lute gains, behind Harris County.

Suburban Collin and Denton Counties ranked fourth and seventh among Texas counties in terms of abso­lute growth and were respons­ible for 40 percent of the popu­la­tion gains in the Dallas–­Fort Worth metroplex. Of that growth, 80 percent is attrib­ut­able to people of color. Both counties, which were just over 60 percent white in 2010, are now among the most diverse in all of Texas, accord­ing to the Census Bureau’s new meas­ure. foot­note7_4xbm5me 7 U.S. Census Bureau, “Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the United States: 2010 and 2020 Census,” August 12, 2021, https://www.census.gov/library/visu­al­iz­a­tions/inter­act­ive/racial-and-ethnic-diversity-in-the-united-states-2010-and-2020-census.html; Pamela Gwyn Kripke, “Why 30,000 Chinese People Call Plano Home,” D Magazine, June 2012, https://www.dmagazine.com/public­a­tions/d-magazine/2012/june/why-30000-chinese-people-call-plano-texas-home/; and Meredith Yeomans, “Indian Popu­la­tion Finds Welcom­ing Home in Collin County,” NBC DFW, Novem­ber 16, 2016, https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/indian-popu­la­tion-finds-welcom­ing-home-in-collin-county/153292/. With the 2020 Census Redis­trict­ing File, the Census Bureau released a series of data visu­al­iz­a­tions captur­ing the racial and ethnic diversity in the United States over the previ­ous decade. Included in those analyses was a diversity index. Inform­a­tion about the bureau’s novel diversity meas­ures can be found at “Meas­ur­ing Racial and Ethnic Diversity for the 2020 Census,” August 4, 2021, https://www.census.gov/news­room/blogs/random-samplings/2021/08/meas­ur­ing-racial-ethnic-diversity-2020-census.html.  Each is now within a few percent­age points of becom­ing a racial plur­al­ity. foot­note8_qpq2668 8 In 2020, Collin County was 51 percent white and Denton County was 53 percent white, down from 63 percent and 64 percent in 2010, respect­ively.  The Black and Latino communit­ies there grew signi­fic­antly, and the Asian popu­la­tion grew at a break­neck pace, more than doub­ling since 2010. foot­note9_coqi­a66 9 Indeed, Collin County added the most Asian Amer­ic­ans of any county in Texas (101,089 people), more than counties triple its size in Hous­ton and else­where.

This demo­graphic trans­form­a­tion of the Dallas–­Fort Worth suburbs has been accom­pan­ied by economic and polit­ical changes. As Collin County’s popu­la­tion doubled since 2000, its popu­la­tion dens­ity increased by 30 percent and its employ­ment expan­ded by 77 percent. foot­note10_kuxco9z 10 U.S. Census Bureau, “Quick Facts – Collin County, TX,” https://www.census.gov/quick­facts/collin­county­texas; and Collin County, TX, “The Numbers,” accessed Septem­ber 28, 2021, https://www.collin­countytx.gov/living/Pages/numbers.aspx  Hous­ing devel­op­ment, too, has soared as suburbs such as Frisco, Plano, and McKin­ney have grown explos­ively. foot­note11_axat­s6i 11 Claire Ballor, “Collin County Is Far Outpa­cing Surround­ing Counties When It Comes to New Single-Family Homes,” Dallas Busi­ness Journal, Octo­ber 9, 2018, https://www.bizjourn­als.com/dallas/news/2018/10/09/collin-county-is-far-outpa­cing-surround­ing.html; and Bruce Tomaso, “Across the Coun­try, Suburbs Like Plano Are Success­fully Chal­len­ging Urban Centers for Growth,” Dallas Morn­ing News, July 18, 2018, https://www.dallas­news.com/opin­ion/comment­ary/2018/07/18/across-the-coun­try-suburbs-like-plano-are-success­fully-chal­len­ging-urban-centers-for-growth/.

The polit­ical winds have also shif­ted. Across Tarrant, Collin, and Denton Counties, multiracial coali­tions are increas­ingly impact­ing the region’s polit­ics. foot­note12_jf6egw1 12 The tense fight over a school diversity plan in the Dallas suburb of South­lake has garnered national atten­tion. Mike Hixen­baugh and Anto­nia Hylton, “Inside South­lake: Texas Suburb at Center of a Crit­ical Race Theory Battle Looks Forward,” CBS News, August 30, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/inside-south­lake-texas-suburb-center-crit­ical-race-theory-battle-looks-n1277748.  In 2020, an Afro-Latina candid­ate, Candace Valen­zuela, came within a point and a half of winning a congres­sional seat in the suburbs of Dallas. foot­note13_asbea5l 13 Akela Lacy, “Candace Valen­zuela Narrowly Loses Race Against ‘Anti-Sharia’ Repub­lican in Dallas Suburbs,” The Inter­cept, Novem­ber 3, 2020, https://thein­ter­cept.com/2020/11/03/candace-valen­zuela-texas-congress/.  The same year, Lulu Siekaly nearly became the first Arab Amer­ican elec­ted to Congress from Texas, largely by garner­ing large swaths of the Asian vote in Collin County. foot­note14_n07c­qdy 14 Amal Ahmed, “Lulu Seikaly Wants to Flip One of Texas’ Most Conser­vat­ive Suburban Districts,” Texas Observer, Octo­ber 15, 2020, https://www.texasob­server.org/lulu-seikaly-wants-to-flip-one-of-texas-most-conser­vat­ive-suburban-districts/.

By the numbers, the fast-grow­ing Dallas–­Fort Worth counties should gain one and a third state house districts and over three-quar­ters of a congres­sional district from regions of the state that have shrunk or stag­nated. foot­note15_6jffgzz 15 Ideal district popu­la­tion sizes are calcu­lated by divid­ing the total popu­la­tion of Texas (25,145,561 in 2010 and 29,145,505 in 2020) by the number of Texas districts in the relev­ant category (150 for state house, 31 for state senate, and 38 for Congress). The ideal size for a state house district was 167,637 in 2010 and 194,303 in 2020; for a state senate district, 811,147 in 2010 and 940,178 in 2020; and for a congres­sional district, 698,488in 2010 (when the state had only 36 seats) and 766,987 in 2020. Collin County, for example, would have been entitled to 4.6 state house districts in 2010 and has the popu­la­tion for 5.47 state house districts in 2020, mean­ing the number of districts it could support increased by 0.8 over the past decade due to popu­la­tion growth. Combined figures for the Dallas–­Fort Worth region were calcu­lated by adding these county repres­ent­a­tional differ­ences together.  Even within the metroplex, repres­ent­a­tion should follow the changes in popu­la­tion — Collin and Denton Counties have grown relat­ive to others and now have the popu­la­tion to support one and a half addi­tional state house districts and half an addi­tional congres­sional seat.

Nonwhite Share of Population in Houston Metro Area, 2010–20

Look­ing at greater Hous­ton, a similar story emerges. The region gained 1.2 million people from 2010 to 2020, largely in Harris, Fort Bend, and Mont­gomery Counties. Harris County alone was respons­ible for 16 percent of the state’s popu­la­tion growth during this period.

The Latino, Black, and Asian communit­ies were collect­ively respons­ible for the major­ity of increases in each of the Hous­ton area’s counties, respect­ively making up 48, 18, and 17 percent of total gains. In four counties, includ­ing Harris County itself, the white popu­la­tion decreased. This means that the 638,686-person increase in Hous­ton’s popu­la­tion is entirely attrib­ut­able to growth among people of color.

Hous­ton’s growth has been outpaced by that of suburban counties such as Fort Bend, which saw its popu­la­tion increase by 41 percent, largely driven by nonwhite communit­ies. Indeed, changes in the Latino, Asian, and Black popu­la­tions there collect­ively account for 85 percent of growth. While many counties saw their Latino numbers rise the most, in Fort Bend, Asian communit­ies anchored the gains. Fort Bend is now 30 percent white, 24 percent Latino, 22 percent Asian, 20 percent Black, and 3 percent multiracial. It has become the most diverse county in Texas. foot­note16_90ufiay 16 U.S. Census Bureau, “Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the United States.”  This demo­graphic evol­u­tion has coin­cided with a polit­ical one: in 2018, Fort Bend elec­ted KP George, an Indian Amer­ican, as its county exec­ut­ive. He is the first person of color to hold the post. foot­note17_mfk3e7m 17 Lisa Gray, “Indian-Amer­ican K.P. George Takes Historic Place as Fort Bend County Judge, Hous­ton Chron­icle, Decem­ber 20, 2018, https://www.chron.com/news/hous­ton-texas/hous­ton/article/Indian-Amer­ican-K-P-George-takes-historic-place-13498873.php.  And after voting Repub­lican for over a decade, Fort Bend has swung blue in every major elec­tion since 2016. foot­note18_tiir2j3 18 Juan Pablo Garnham, “Demo­crats Didn’t Get a Blue Wave, but Some of the Fast­est-Grow­ing Suburbs in Texas Are Still Moving to the Left,” Texas Tribune, Novem­ber 11, 2020, https://www.texastribune.org/2020/11/11/texas-demo­crats-repub­lic­ans-suburb/.

Like­wise, suburban Mont­gomery County grew at double the rate of Harris County. It remains far less diverse than Fort Bend, at 60 percent white, 26 percent Latino, 5 percent Black, 3 percent Asian, and 4 percent multiracial. But Mont­gomery County’s Asian, Black, and Latino popu­la­tions grew by 129, 84, and 73 percent respect­ively, far exceed­ing the white popu­la­tion’s 14 percent increase. These demo­graphic trends suggest that Mont­gomery County will soon become a racial plur­al­ity as well.

Given this decade’s changes, the Hous­ton metro area now has the popu­la­tion to sustain an addi­tional one and a third state house districts and an addi­tional eight-tenths of a congres­sional district. Fort Bend County alone can now comfort­ably support four state house districts, and it should see the greatest gains in repres­ent­a­tion. foot­note19_uxo4kof 19 By our estim­ates, Fort Bend’s state house repres­ent­a­tional share increased from 3.49 in 2010 to 4.23 in 2020. Mont­gomery County’s share increased from 2.72 to 3.19.

Nonwhite Share of Population in Austin–San Antonio Corridor, 2010–20

The Austin–San Anto­nio corridor has been called “the next mega metro” of Texas, and its growth this decade supports the title. foot­note20_bdgnlba 20 Mike Marut, “State Demo­grapher Believes Austin-San Anto­nio Could Be Next ‘Mega Metro’ Area Based on Census Data,” KVUE, August 14, 2021, https://www.kvue.com/article/money/economy/boomtown-2040/census-state-demo­grapher-believes-austin-san-anto­nio-could-be-next-mega-metro-area/269–0321750c-0cab-4218–948c-6a51072709c4.  The state capital and San Anto­nio have long been connec­ted by Inter­state 35. More recently, the two cities have grown toward each other, form­ing an expans­ive metro area that rivals the Dallas–­Fort Worth metroplex and greater Hous­ton.

Over­all, Austin–San Anto­nio gained 955,835 people over the last decade. Lati­nos led among ethnic groups, adding 408,653 people, 43 percent of the area’s growth. Bexar, Travis, and Willi­am­son led among the region’s counties and exper­i­enced the third, fifth, and ninth highest popu­la­tion growth among all counties in the state.

As with Texas’s other metro areas, growth in the Austin–San Anto­nio corridor was driven by growth among the Black, Latino, and Asian communit­ies, which consti­tutes 61 percent of all added popu­la­tion. In Bexar County, which contains San Anto­nio, the Latino community accoun­ted for 60 percent of increases. Across demo­graphic categor­ies, just over half of Bexar County’s new popu­la­tion moved there, and the rest were new births. foot­note21_1m1236m 21 U.S. Census Bureau, “Estim­ates of the Compon­ents of Resid­ent Popu­la­tion Change for Counties: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019,” accessed Septem­ber 28, 2021, https://www.census.gov/data/data­sets/time-series/demo/popest/2010s-counties-total.html

By contrast, corridor counties still early in their devel­op­ment — Hays and Comal, for example — received the bulk of their popu­la­tion growth from people moving in, as previ­ously open land has been rapidly conver­ted to new hous­ing for Austin and San Anto­nio commuters. foot­note22_ckn1732 22 U.S. Census Bureau, “Estim­ates of the Compon­ents of Resid­ent Popu­la­tion Change”; and Jackie Wang, “Census: Bexar County Growth Among Largest in Nation from 2010 to 2019,” San Anto­nio Report, March 26, 2020, https://sananto­niore­port.org/census-bexar-county-growth-among-largest-in-nation-from-2010-to-2019/.  These counties grew at the fast­est rates statewide, increas­ing by about 50 percent each. North of Austin, Willi­am­son County trailed just behind with a 44 percent increase. Just under three-quar­ters of its added popu­la­tion moved from else­where in the United States. foot­note23_zlrgjl8 23 U.S. Census Bureau estim­ates attrib­ute around 90 percent of estim­ated growth in Comal County and around 80 percent of estim­ated growth in Hays County to migra­tion, in both cases over­whelm­ingly from within the United States. 72 percent of popu­la­tion gains in Willi­am­son County were new movers from else­where in the United States. U.S. Census Bureau, “Estim­ates of the Compon­ents of Resid­ent Popu­la­tion Change.”

With this rapid growth, however, come pains. The displace­ment of long­time Black and Latino resid­ents in greater Austin led the city to create a community displace­ment preven­tion officer posi­tion to mitig­ate gentri­fic­a­tion’s effects. foot­note24_mqplil3 24 City of Austin, “City of Austin Hires First Community Displace­ment Preven­tion Officer,” April 14, 2021, https://www.austintexas.gov/news/city-austin-hires-first-community-displace­ment-preven­tion-officer.  Infra­struc­ture, too, has been buck­ling due to the region’s popu­la­tion explo­sion. With 28.9 million miles traveled daily by Bexar County drivers alone, roads in the region have become conges­ted. foot­note25_g0zm5cn 25 Tara Petitt, “Traffic Inbox: Could San Anto­nio’s Traffic Conges­tion Cripple the City?,” Spec­trum News 1, June 11, 2019, https://spec­trum­loc­al­news.com/tx/san-anto­nio/traffic/2019/06/11/could-san-anto­nio-s-traffic-conges­tion-cripple-the-city—.

But from a redis­trict­ing stand­point, things are clear: like the other major metro areas in Texas, Austin–San Anto­nio should see addi­tional repres­ent­a­tion in state and federal govern­ment. Based on popu­la­tion, the region can support nearly two addi­tional state house seats and three-quar­ters of an addi­tional congres­sional seat. foot­note26_m9rnuxs 26 By our estim­ates, the Austin–San Anto­nio corridor counties can support 1.91 more state house districts and 0.77 more of a congres­sional district. Travis and Willi­am­son Counties saw an increase of 0.21 and 0.18 of a congres­sional seat, respect­ively.

Conclu­sion

Texas’s growth over the last decade has been stag­ger­ing and almost entirely driven by people of color. At stake in this redis­trict­ing cycle is the polit­ical power of the grow­ing Latino, Black, and Asian communit­ies in Texas’s rapidly diver­si­fy­ing cities and suburbs. Whether they receive the repres­ent­a­tional gains that should result from their increases — or whether they instead see their polit­ical power diluted by gerry­man­der­ing — remains to be seen.

End Notes