In an Oct. 6 New York Times Op-Ed, David Wasserman, the House editor at The Cook Political Report, calls Collin County one of several “bellwether counties,” or “November election pivots,” that could help flip Texas blue and send former Vice President Joe Biden to the White House.
Part of the reason for this sudden shift, Wasserman claims, is that Collin County is experiencing a political metamorphosis as its population explodes with Democrats and minorities moving to North Texas in waves similar to California Republicans.
Another reason for the political metamorphosis is the “suburban backlash” against Trump for his divisive rhetoric and handling of COVID-19 and protests against police brutality of Black people.
But it’s a backlash that could also affect Biden, given the recent violence in Kenosha, Wisc. and the calls to “Defund the Police.” In August, the Hill reported that Democrat strategists are worried and an unidentified Senate aide told the reporter:
“I would imagine it’s a potential problem. The riots in the streets and the destruction are not the only part of these protests. If you were to follow what Republicans have said about this protest movement and these moments, you would think that every single moment of these protests has been defined by violence, and they haven’t been.”
Despite this possible backlash, Wasserman claims a recent poll by Global Strategy Group shows Biden leading Trump in Texas’ Third Congressional District (Collin County). “The political terrain in TX-03 has become much more favorable for Democrats as Trump trails by two after winning by 14 in 2016,” Global Strategy’s Andrew Baumann wrote in the July 22 poll findings, obtained by the Texas Tribune.
“The entire county is a battleground right now,” says John Shanks, executive director of the Collin County Democrat Party. “In 2018, [we were] less than 22,000 votes from flipping the entire county blue. That is a big change.”
Shanks agrees with Wasserman that Collin County’s explosive population growth is part of this sudden shift, especially with more minorities and young, well-educated families moving to the area to work for companies like Toyota. In the late ’90s, Collin County, for example, was 85 percent white. Today, that number has dropped to 55 percent.
He points out that young people becoming more involved and politically active has also helped.
Neal Katz, the executive director of the Collin County Republican Party, says Collin County’s low tax rate is driving the county’s growth.
“This county,” he says, “has the lowest county tax rate (in Texas) which makes us attractive,” as does its history as a Republican stronghold. Realtors like Conservative Move have been doing their best to attract Republicans since 2017.
But Collin County’s low tax rate is also appealing to Democrats and the large corporations that employ them. Katz figures it’s an equal split between the parties. “Half of the people coming from California are Democrat and half are Republican,” he says.
This sudden political shift in Collin County is also known as the “Blue Wave.” It’s been reportedly hitting Collin County since at least 2008.
John Cocks, a lifetime Republican who once served as treasurer of Collin County’s GOP Party, told Spectrum News in early August that the “Blue Wave” is now being fueled by people’s aversion to Trump’s divisive rhetoric and disappointment in Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests against police brutality.
“I don’t think the Republican party as a whole realizes that there is a lot of people now who just don’t like what’s going on,” he says.
Shanks points out that there is a big difference in how people wrestle with the Trump factor on the inside and how they respond to it on the outside. He says he believes Trump’s support is waning, as is support for other Republican politicians in the county.
It also doesn’t help that Collin County, Shanks adds, has been known to use the “backroom management” way of doing business, also called the “Good Ol’ Boy” system of government. Shanks mentions Ken Paxton’s 5-year-old indictment and delayed felony trial.
“We see the same kind of swamp that Trump is creating in DC and see it across Texas,” he says.
Katz admits Republican voters are concerned about the polls but reiterates that the polls underestimated the so-called silent majority in 2016. “If we believed the polls, Hillary Clinton would be elected,” he says.
He’s right, of course. As the Pew Research Center reported in a Nov. 9, 2016 report: “Across the board, polls underestimated Trump’s level of support.”
But the country is in far worse shape this election season than it was in 2016.
And while Democrats supporters are voting en masse, Katz says that he has also seen an uptick in Trump supporters picking up bumper stickers and volunteering. In fact, he says that Trump’s silent majority is more active now than they were in 2016, though he does admit that there are some “who wish that [Trump] wouldn’t tweet as much as he does.”
One of several issues that seem to be fueling the so-called silent majority, he says, is the rioting, looting, and burning of government buildings and businesses in Democrat-controlled cities in places like Portland and Seattle. It hasn’t happened yet in Texas, according to Katz, because 1.3 million Texans carry guns.
“Both parties are energized,” Katz says. “We don’t play spy vs spy anymore. We’re working hard and realize the importance of Collin County and working very hard. I don’t believe it’s been hit by a ‘Blue Wave.’ [We will] hold our own.
“Once Texas is gone,” he adds, “so goes the nation.”