Villalba says he believes his and other Republican districts will go blue because moderate conservatives will reject candidates who align themselves with the president and far-right conservatism. His prediction? Republicans will lose between eight and 12 seats.
But Trump isn’t the only factor at play. Rottinghaus said he expects two to three Dallas County seats to flip based on the changing demographics of older, white families moving to suburbs like Frisco, leaving newcomers in Dallas’s urban areas.
“The people who are moving in are your traditional Democrats — Latinos, African-American voters, Asian Americans. They’re newcomers wanting to live in a hip urban area,” he said.
Blue wave or small splash?
But even the most generous blue wave scenario in the Texas Legislature is likely to be only a small splash when it comes to reducing the Republicans’ advantage.
Republicans dominate the House 95 to 55. There are twice as many Republicans in the Senate as there are Democrats.
Oftentimes Democrats, to be most effective, have to partner with moderate Republicans to water down the most conservative bills that come through the Legislature.
A shift of about 10 seats from red to blue could give Democrats more opportunities to vote against bills that could damage their agenda. They would also have more of a say in the race for House speaker – an influential leadership position that can determine which bills the lower chamber will debate.
In the Senate, the stakes are even higher because bills filed in the regular session require the support of three-fifths of members — 19 votes — to be sent to floor debate for consideration.
Once Flores is sworn in, Republicans will have 21 members in the Senate, which means they can push through legislation in the upper chamber. But if three Democrats win Senate seats this November, they would have a path to block bills.
Democrats haven’t always been so outnumbered. Just 10 years ago, they trailed by only two in the House.
In 2001, there were more Democrats than Republicans in the Legislature.
But several rounds of redistricting led by Republican majorities have weakened their numbers, coupled with a resounding “red wave” in 2010, stemming from dissatisfaction with then-President Barack Obama.
That was the year Republicans jumped from 76 House members to 101.
Garcia stopped short of putting a number on how many seats Democrats would need to win before claiming victory.
“Every single district and every single vote we get in the Legislature makes a dramatic difference for what can be done to change people’s everyday lives,” he said.