Seem like your vote just doesn’t matter anymore? You may be right. Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune explains how your state representatives and senators have rigged the system to protect incumbency and secure themselves the benefits of office at the expense of any real electoral choice. The chances of a Texas incumbent actually losing his or her office to a candidate of the opposing party are practically nil. The only possible challenges are in the primaries which tend to skew further right or left and leave us represented by many politicians who cater to the fringe of their parties. Look at the map above which shows how Texas Republicans chewed up Austin to prevent it from electing more than one Democrat from the bastion of Texas liberalism.
Not counting their U.S. senators, Texans elect 217 federal and state legislators, and all but 15 of those seats will be on the ballot next year.
Voters will dump some people. Other officeholders will hang it up — some already have. This, however, you can take to the bank no matter how many of the faces change: fewer than a dozen of those 217 positions will see a change of party. Probably not even that many. The maps are rigged to favor the parties that are in power in each district.
Start with the congressional maps. In the average competitive statewide race in Texas in the last two presidential years — 2008 and 2012 — the Republican candidate beat the Democratic candidate by 11.7 percentage points. The margins in congressional districts range from a Democratic high of 58.1 points to a Republican high of 52.4 percent. It’s safe to say that Dallas’ Eddie Bernice Johnson and Clarendon’s Mac Thornberry don’t have anything to worry about in next November’s elections. Their primaries could always be interesting, but you’re not going to beat either of them with a candidate from the opposing party.