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The best of the Tribune's storytelling with data and graphics in 2019

The Tribune's data visuals team published more than 100 graphics about Texas politics and policy this year. Here's a look back at some of our favorites.

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1. In increasingly diverse Texas, the Legislature remains mostly white and male

Every two years, The Texas Tribune compiles the demographics of the Texas Legislature. Every two years, the headline is the same. Alexa Ura and Darla Cameron analyzed the demographics of the 86th Legislature by lawmakers’ race, gender, age, education and religion.

2. Understanding Texas property taxes and school finance

In Texas, property taxes keep local governments like cities, counties and school districts operating and pay for everything from police officers' salaries to classroom textbooks. Chris Essig, Brandon Formby, Ben Hasson and Aliyya Swaby produced a series of stories and graphics showing how the taxes were calculated as lawmakers weighed historic changes to the system in the 2019 legislative session.

3. These naturalized citizens belong on the Texas voter rolls. A state review could have kicked them off.

Alexa Ura and Ryan Murphy told the stories of three of the almost 100,000 registered voters who state officials singled out for review using flawed data.

4. Is Texas really going purple?

It’s a hot topic in political circles across the country: Is Texas nearing the end of its red streak? To help answer that, data visuals fellow Shiying Cheng and Executive Editor Ross Ramsey created a Heat Index that measured whether each legislative and congressional district favored Democrats or Republicans in statewide elections. Their analysis showed that the number of competitive congressional districts in Texas grew dramatically in 2018. That suggests that Texas could be a battleground in 2020.

5. Texas vaccine exemption rates have reached an all-time high. Did Texas make it too easy for parents to opt out?

Texas has resisted recent attempts to change its vaccine laws, allowing parents to get their children exemptions for "reasons of conscience." Elizabeth Byrne wrote about how the law passed, and Shiying Cheng's lookup tool lets parents see how exemption rates have changed in school districts and private schools across the state.

6. Five takeaways from the $80 million raised by Texas campaigns the first half of this year

Thanks to a moratorium on fundraising while the Texas Legislature is in session, most state officeholders only had two weeks in June to raise campaign funds in the first half of this year. That didn't stop them from reporting millions of dollars raised in their semiannual financial reports. Carla Astudillo reviewed those reports, which are made public by the Texas Ethics Commission.

7. Most migrants cross at the Texas border. Here’s how the flow of people intersects with Trump’s policies.

Since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, his administration has tried to curb migration at the Southwest border. Most migrants cross into Texas. Mandi Cai and Connie Hanzhang Jin explored how the flow of people intersects with Trump’s policies.

8. Texas had seven mass shootings over 10 years. Meanwhile, gun control has loosened statewide.

Texas has a history of deadly mass shootings. Many have sparked public debate about what legislation should be passed to prevent another one, and this timeline by Mandi Cai and Stacy Fernández analyzes the factors at play. University of Texas/Texas Tribune polls consistently show that Texans are divided about gun control — with 40% to 50% saying they want stricter gun laws — and all but one of the laws passed over the past decade by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature have expanded where guns are allowed, who can have a firearm in schools and the right to openly carry guns.

9. Half of registered Texas voters turned out in 2018. Just 12% turned out this year.

Stephanie Adeline and Alex Samuels analyzed voter turnout in November when Texas voters approved nine amendments to the state’s constitution. Only 12% of registered voters actually cast ballots — a higher percentage than the 2017 election, but still overwhelmingly low overall. Adeline also partnered with Carla Astudillo to publish the Tribune's first-ever constitutional amendment election results.

10. At least 25,000 people in Texas experience homelessness. Here's what we know about Texans without homes.

Gov. Greg Abbott has focused attention on homeless Austin residents in 2019. But many more Texans are homeless in other parts of the state — the Dallas and Houston areas last year saw twice as many new people ask for homeless-related services than the Austin area did. Juan Pablo Garnham and Stephanie Adeline explored what data tells us about Texans without homes.

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