Category: TX District 2

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (Texas-2nd): Impact of Changing Demographics

Demographics have changed a fair amount in Texas’s 2nd District. It is important to note, however, that congressional redistricting occurred in 2012 that eliminated parts of southeast Texas, which included larger African American and white populations, and added neighborhoods in Houston heavily populated by Latinos. These new geographic boundaries may influence the demographic changes noted. From 2007 to 2017, the Latino population increased from 19.7% to 32.1%, meaning that articles discussing how changing Latino demographics impacts local voting patterns will be relevant. The district also has a high and rising foreign-born population (21.7% in 2017, compared with 11.3% in 2007), as well as a high and rising proportion of Latinos who are immigrants (40.5% of all Latinos in 2017, compared with 37.7% in 2007), making articles discussing immigration policy and high volumes of immigrants in an area relevant to this presentation. Moreover, the high proportion of Latinos who are immigrants means this presentation will distinguish between articles discussing attitudes possessed by/toward this group of Latinos in particular. While the Asian population grew (a change from 3.2% in 2007 to 7.7% in 2017), the small overall size of Asians in the district meaning articles discussing the impact of a large Asian population will not hold much significance to this presentation. Finally, the non-Hispanic white population decrease from 55.9% in 2007 to 45.2% in 2017, meaning that articles discussing a declining white population in the context of rising minority populations (in this case, largely Latinos) will be relevant to the following discussion.

 

The scholarly theories in this presentation were selected based on their relevance to the 2nd District. De Graauw’s article was discussed due to the district containing western parts of Houston, America’s 4th largest city. Due to Houston’s population and its proximity to the southern border, it will likely be a “gateway city” for immigrants, meaning that many immigrant nonprofits will likely headquarters themselves there and advocate for immigrant integration into local politics and society. Branton and Dunaway’s piece was featured due to the rising Latino population in the district and to see how these changing demographics would change media incentives. A rising, but small Latino population would incentivize more coverage of immigration, as the issue would be of interest to the majority white population. However, after a certain threshold (around 18-27% Latino), media organizations view Latinos as potential consumers of media and decrease immigration coverage to not dissuade Latino viewers. Abrajano and Hajnal’s piece was included because of the large Latino population and large, but declining white population in the 2nd District. This theory predicts whites would view the large Latino population as a potential threat to white communities via economic competition, rising crime, competition for social services, and threats to white political power. Finally, Abrajano and Singh’s article was included due to the large number of foreign-born Latinos in the district. This theory predicts that native-born Latinos are more likely to take mainstream policy positions, causing them to view illegal immigration more negatively than immigrant Latinos who may be undocumented themselves or more closely relate to a shared immigrant experience with undocumented immigrants.

The district containing parts of Houston and possessing an immigrant population larger than the national average (21.7% vs. 13.7 nationally in 2017) predicts that immigrant nonprofits will be very active in the district and play a key role integrating immigrants into local politics (spreading awareness of local political issues, explaining how to register to vote, etc.). Since the Latino population is higher than the 18-27% threshold established by Branton and Dunaway (32.1% in 2017), newspapers in the 2nd District will contain less stories about immigration relative to areas with a Latino population slightly below the aforementioned threshold. Moreover, the high Latino population would also predict that whites in the 2nd District would view immigration as a top concern. The large foreign-born Latino population in the 2nd District (40.5% vs. 33.5% nationally in 2017) would predict that Latinos in the district would likely view illegal immigration as an economic benefit compared to Latinos in other districts.

The prediction chosen to be tested is that since the 2nd District’s Latino population (32.1%) is larger than Branton and Dunaway’s 18-27% threshold, local newspapers will cover immigration stories less than areas with a Latino at or slightly below this threshold. This test will be conducted by first comparing a Houston-area newspaper to a newspaper in a nearby Texas market that has a Latino population at or below the threshold. Keeping the second market in Texas allows us to control for differences in state laws/rhetoric by politicians about immigration. Despite the government shutdown starting December 22nd, 2018, this study will start its analysis on December 11th, 2018 because of a high-profile argument between President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that debated the amount of money appropriated to border security and likely started a spike in media coverage of immigration. This analysis will continue until January 25th, 2019, when the shutdown concluded, and include terms associated with the border security debate that caused the shutdown (“wall,” “shutdown,” “illegal immigration,” etc.). Moreover, positive aspects of immigration (reports of immigrants benefiting the country), neutral aspects (reports that do not declare a position) and negative aspects (crime stories, reports of economic competition with natives, social service use by undocumented immigrants, etc.) will be coded for in analysis of articles to see if a difference emerges between the two newspapers in tone. To assess the volume of stories, this analysis will observe the number of articles discussing immigration or the shutdown per day compared to the total number of articles published per day by each newspaper. Using proportions will be a better comparison because newspapers in Houston have a larger audience and likely more journalistic resources to print more stories than other areas of Texas.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX-2)

 

Up to 2010, then-Congressman Ted Poe (R- Texas 2nd) easily won elections with over 85% of the vote, with the district being so Republican that Democrats did not even promote a candidate. In 2011, Texas’s 2nd District was redrawn, including less rural areas and concentrating more in the heavily populated and more Latino Houston suburbs. While Poe still won reelection from 2012 to 2016 easily, the margins grew smaller every year, with Poe taking only 60% of the vote in 2016 and Democrats finding candidates who could reach over 30% of the vote. In 2018, with a Democratic wave on the rise and Democrats hoping to capitalize on the large foreign-born/Latino population in the district, the race was very close. Dan Crenshaw managed to win the race, but by less than 8 percentage points, with commentators largely contributing his victory to a Saturday Night Live appearance where he received an apology after a joke was made about his eyepatch on the show (Crenshaw received the wound as a result of combat action).

There are several political theories relevant to Texas’s 2nd District. The first, from Professor Tom Wong, predicted that areas with larger total foreign-born populations would have representatives supportive of less restrictionist immigration policies for a few reasons: Naturalized American citizens would likely be biased toward being less restrictive due to their personal experiences being immigrants. Green-card holders, who would become citizens in a few years, would contribute to a larger share of the voting base in future elections and would also be more likely to support less restrictive policies because of their personal immigration experiences. Finally, a large total foreign-born population may include many undocumented immigrants who would protest restrictionist policies and pressure family members with citizenship to vote for candidates that are against these restrictionist policies. The second theory is that a higher naturalized citizen population will lead to more support for less restrictionist policies for the same reasons cited earlier (personal immigration experiences and potential undocumented family members). The final theory is from Professors Tom Wong and Karthick Ramakrishnan, which that areas with more Republicans are more likely to support restrictionist immigration ordinances because of strong local opposition to illegal immigration or policy entrepreneurs framing illegal immigration as one of the region’s largest problems.

Texas’s 2nd District has a much higher foreign-born proportion of the population than the country as a whole (21.4% vs. 13.7% nationally). This would suggest that the district’s representatives would be less restrictionist. The district also has a higher proportion of naturalized citizens than the nation as a whole (8.6% vs. 6.2% nationally), which would also predict higher support for less restrictionist immigration policies. The preceding statistics were calculated from 2017 US Census data, making it recent enough to accurately draw inferences from. The final point regarding Republican areas being more likely to support restrictionist ordinances was tested using data from the Cook Partisan Voting Index, which measures a congressional district’s partisan leanings compared to the country as a whole. In contrast to the previous two hypotheses, the 11-point advantage given to Republicans indicates the representative will be slightly more likely to support restrictionist immigration policies.

Congressman Ted Poe definitely fit the conservative end of the political spectrum, though he was not one of the leaders of restrictionist policies in the House of Representatives. According to NumbersUSA, a think-tank that advocates for lower levels of both legal and illegal immigration, Congressman Poe received an 88% rating, indicating high support for restrictionist policies. However, immigration was not one of his most important issues in Congress, as only 11% of the bills he sponsored focused on immigration. Congressman Dan Crenshaw, however, has made his support for restrictionist immigration policies the forefront of his campaign, which contrasts the first two hypotheses made by Professor Wong regarding high foreign-born populations and naturalized citizen populations making members support less restrictive policies. Out of 12 videos on his congressional website, 6 focused on immigration and support for restrictionist immigration policies (i.e. support for President Trump’s proposed wall and increased spending for Border Patrol). Additionally, out of 105 tweets made by Congressman Crenshaw from January 1st, 2019 to March 1st, 2019, 49 discussed immigration (47% of total tweets). Moreover, of these 49 immigration tweets, 45 were in support of restrictionist policies (94%). These points prove that immigration has become an important issue in Texas’s 2nd District and support for restrictionist policies high among its current congressman.

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