This week, the Tribune and the El Paso Times collaborated on a three-part series exploring the political map of Texas ahead of the November election.
The first piece centered on the race for governor and what would have to change for Democrats to win in the politically fortified red state of Texas:
Political observers, party faithful and a pair of gubernatorial candidates have been consumed by one question for nearly eight months: How close is the race between Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White? Members of both parties agree that White, the Harvard-educated former mayor of Houston, represents the Democrats' best shot at the governor's office in 15 years, despite the state's status as a Republican stronghold. But many believe that voting patterns show Texas is still years away from becoming truly competitive.
The second focused on Latino voting in Texas and why the state's fastest-growing population hasn't yet achieved full strength:
Latinos are the "sleeping giant" of Texas politics — a phrase repeated so often that it has become a cliché. Nearly 37 percent of the state's population of about 24.8 million people is Latino, but almost any political expert will tell you that the group does not fully exercise its strength in elections. Pinpointing if and when Latinos will begin wielding their voting power is a challenge.
The third examined counties' voting patterns — and how those realities affect their political clout:
It's a tale of four counties. Two of them are the largest Latino-majority and Democratic-leaning counties in the state, and they rank near the bottom when you compare the size of their voting age population to the actual number of people who show up at the polls. The other two are growing suburban counties with larger Anglo populations that tend to lean Republican and produce some of the highest turnouts of eligible voters anywhere in Texas.