Is Houston, Texas a Liberal City?

Houston, Texas, USA downtown city skyline.

When it comes to politics, more and more neighborhoods are shifting right or left with current conflicts. How does Houston hold up to the shifting ties of the modern world of politics? Here, we have done all the research and have all the answers you need!

Politics in Houston tend to sway, with residents usually being evenly split between liberal and conservative. In recent years, the city has leaned more liberal but still has a fair conservative population. Houston will typically vote mostly Democratic and typically support liberal views.

With Texas having a reputation as conservative, but Houston being more urban, it’s interesting to see how the city aligns. Like many cities, Houston is choosing blue, and won’t be turning anytime soon. Keep reading to find out more about Houston’s political habits!

Texas’s Political Past

A cowboy begins the Roundup at the Ft Worth Stockyards

Texas is called the Lone Star state, and not just because of its flag design. Texas didn’t become a state in the US until 1845, having been a sovereign state beforehand. Texas may have been legally a part of the US, but it never forgot it was once a free state and has remained fiercely independent ever since. Politics in Texas have been reputed to swing more conservative than liberal, with Texas voting Republican in every election since 1980. Conservative politics tend to be more popular in the South, and in states with less urbanization. Texas is known for its ranches and is full of farm and ranchland, which attracts more conservative citizens.

Tradition may also play a large part in Texas’s politics, with the smaller government championed by conservatives popular amongst a population of people who still pledge allegiance to the Texan flag in schools. The Republican party was not always so well received in Texas, following the Civil War, the Union Army marched in and occupied Texas, turning the state Democrat for the next few generations until the political field shifted and Texas turned Republican again. Though the state has shifted in the past, it has proved itself fiercely loyal to the political party it chooses to support. Texas is the kind of state to hold fast to ancestral history and tradition, and it is openly proud of its heritage.

Texas is a diverse state, combining modern American culture with its previous traditions as a sovereign state, the customs and society of Native Americans who have inhabited the land for thousands of years, and immigrant lifestyles from around the world. Texas is a melting pot of culture and history, with one thing connecting all of its residents: their strong independence. For Houstonians, this independence seems to be manifesting in their choice to be liberal despite being stranded in a largely conservative state.

How Houston Differs From its State

Texas may still follow many traditions from over a hundred years ago, but Houston is something of a bubble in this southern state. Strong urbanization has affected Houston, and, like many cities, it tends to lean more liberal. The strong conservatism of the surrounding area leaks into Houston, forming pockets of republicans in a strongly liberal area. Within the city, however, liberalism tends to run strong. Many residents of Houston don’t have the lineage of outside Texans, making them less likely to bind themselves to Texas’ history of independence and refusal of government control.

It isn’t entirely clear why people in densely populated cities run blue, but it is irrefutable that they do. There are blue cities in red states, but no real red cities in blue states, or even red cities in red states. All in all, it’s not totally clear why a dense population goes liberal. Democrats claim it is because cities are more diverse and open-minded, and Republicans fire back that cities have more crime and poverty. Some theories include that urban people care less about traditional values than those in the country, and are less likely to vote in favor of those values.

In cities, people are more likely to become lost in the crowd and are under less scrutiny than those in suburbs and countries. They also get less support from neighbors and look for that support elsewhere. This may lead them to turn to Democratic policies that benefit them specifically, even if they don’t uphold older traditions and values. It may not be easily explained, but Houston is no exception and tends to be either split down the middle or lean toward liberalism, especially in recent years.

Recent Elections in Houston

Electoral vote close-up. Political elections in the USA .Background flag USA. Concept of political life and suffrage of Americans.

Harris County, in which Houston resides, is ranked as moderately liberal. 55% of the population voted Democrat in the last presidential election, making it a close vote, but still over the fence in the blue. Liberalism has been popular in Houston for a long time but seems to be making a strong jump ahead of conservatism. The current mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, is a Democrat and has been in power since 2016. Before him, the mayor was a woman named Annise Parker, who ran as nonpartisan but supported several liberal policies, including championing the legalization of marijuana.

The city of Houston is also run by a council, many of whom identify as nonpartisan. Leadership in Houston is more likely to be occupied by urban issues, which is something Democrats tend to be more involved in. Despite being in a red state, Houston does not bend to the conservatism it is surrounded by. This is common for cities, which tend to be dots of blue on a large red map, but lately, Houston has proved itself to be bluer, and it’s a growing dot. This Texas city is pulling in nearby areas, and it doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon. Houston is getting bigger and more liberal, which, in today’s political climate, could prove big.

How Houston’s Politics are Shifting

Houston used to be more middle ground but has become more liberal in recent years. This may be in large part due to the intense polarization that started around the 2016 election. Why polarization has become such an issue in America isn’t totally clear, but it’s probably linked to each party trying to secure voters. Politicians on both sides try to coerce voters into the diehard loyalty that will get them re-elected and resulting in a growing chasm between the two political parties. The irony lies in each side complaining about the lack of compromise from their opponents, while also refusing to settle on a middle ground.

There has also been a lot of tension in recent years, which shows in elections. Many liberals have chosen to rally together, protesting present issues like responses to Covid, and the 2020 Presidential election. Residents have made obvious shows of liberalism in their election choices, and open support of blue policies. Although there is a big Democratic population in Houston, there is still a bit of a conservative population as well. As liberals rally together and choose their political standings in Houston, the city slowly becomes more and more liberal. The city shifts from most conservative views and transforms into a mainly liberal city that supports Democratic views and candidates.

Possible Causes for Recent Shifting

two road signs – democrats or republicans choice

Why is Houston, which used to be more moderate, shifting this way? There are a couple of reasons for the city to become bluer. One reason is the urbanization of Houston. Houston has always been a big city, but it’s only been growing bigger, and become much more densely packed. Houston has a habit of swallowing up smaller cities, making its boundaries wider and its people more sheltered from the outside conservatism of Texas. Blue cities in red states build themselves a sort of bubble, and the denser the city, the stronger the bubble’s walls.

Pockets of conservatism are being drowned out in the expansion of Houston, making the city bluer and bluer with each passing day. The sudden surge in liberal loyalty is in large part caused by these events, as well as increased media coverage. Modern media on both sides of the political spectrum has been calling for voters to be more public in their displays of partisanship, in the form of protests, banners, yard signs, and more. This stirring of the pot in America is highly criticized for drawing boundaries between people with different opinions and driving a wedge between disagreeing parties. However problematic, it is very difficult to fix as people move further and further down the road of polarization.

Polarization is the reason George Washington did not support forming political parties at the founding of the United States, and it has shown problems at people are forced to choose a strong stance on one side or the other, even if one party doesn’t support every issue they do, or takes action where they think action should be taken. Houston does not seem to mind the polarization and still leans headstrongly left. Many democrats say they enjoy living in a blue city within a red state, and Houston offers just that. For Texas conservatives the blue spots on the map prove frustrating, but this southern city refuses to budge.

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Nathan Aydelotte

Hello! I'm Nathan, the lead editor for Suggested by locals. I grew up in the Boise, Idaho area and have lived here most of my life. I enjoy being close to the mountains where I can go hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

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