KXAN (AUSTIN) – For the better part of three decades, Texas has been a Republican stronghold.
In fact, no Democrat has won statewide office since 1994. But the gap between Republicans and Democrats has narrowed in recent years.
Stay up-to-date by going to KXAN’s election page for coverage leading up to Election Day, Nov. 8, and the results.
In the 2014 gubernatorial election in which Greg Abbott became governor, he defeated Wendy Davis by more than 20 percentage points. By the 2020 presidential election, the margin of victory between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden had narrowed to just over 5 percentage points.
What are the reddest and bluest counties?
The base of support for Democrats over the past few cycles has been in big cities like Austin, Dallas and El Paso and communities in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. Republicans enjoy strong support in more rural areas, such as the Panhandle, West Texas and East Texas.
To determine the reddest and bluest counties, KXAN calculated the average margin of victory in each county using election results from the 2014 and 2018 gubernatorial elections and the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.
Based on this average, King County, located between Lubbock and Wichita Falls, is the reddest county in the state. Over the past four elections, the margin of victory for Republican candidates there has averaged 91.49%.
Roberts County, northeast of Amarillo in the Panhandle, is right behind him with an average Republican margin of victory of 91.44%.
Twelve other counties have an average Republican margin of 80% or more, and another 42 have an average margin of 70% or more. Of the counties with more than 100,000 registered voters, Parker County, where Weatherford is located, west of Fort Worth, is the strongest county for Republicans. Republican candidates there won by an average of 65.96%.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Zavala County, southwest of San Antonio, has the highest average victory for Democrats. From 2014 to 2020, Democratic Party candidates won an average of 46.65%.
Nine other counties gave Democrats an average victory of more than 30%. Of the counties with more than 100,000 registered voters, Travis County, where Austin is located, gives the most support to Democrats with an average margin of victory of 37.3%.
Which counties are closest?
Since 2014, nine counties have been elected by less than 5% on average. The closest is La Salle County, northeast of Laredo, which gave an average Republican victory of just 0.22%.
The next closest is Hays County, which gives Democrats an average margin of 0.65%, then Jim Wells County, west of Corpus Christi, which has an average Democratic margin of 0.8%.
Several of the closest counties based on 2014 averages have seen significant changes in scores over the past few cycles.
In Hays County, for example, Greg Abbott won the 2014 gubernatorial election with a 10.83 percent lead over Wendy Davis. This compares to the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden had a 9.41% lead over Donald Trump.
Which counties saw the biggest changes?
KXAN looked at the results of the 2014 and 2018 gubernatorial elections and the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections to determine the average change in each county between each election cycle.
Since 2014, several counties, particularly in South Texas, have sprinted to the right, while suburban counties have marched left.
The most dramatic changes occurred in Starr, Duval and Zapata counties, all in South Texas. In each election, Starr County shifted an average of 17 percentage points to the right, while Duvall and Zapata shifted about 15 and 14 percentage points to the right, respectively.
A total of 118 of the state’s 254 counties have seen a shift to Republicans each cycle, while 136 counties have shifted to Democrats.
Most notable is Collin County, home to Plano in the DFW Metroplex, which has seen an average shift to the left of 9.58% each election cycle. Brazos, Denton and Bell counties have moved left an average of more than 8% each cycle.
At the statewide level, Texas has averaged a 4.93% shift to Democrats in each election cycle since 2014.