Harris County, TX

Est. 1837
County Website

Population 2010

4,092,459

Population 2020

4,731,145

Registered Voters

Republicans

Democrat

Minor Party

No Party

Brief Political History

Harris County was one of the earliest areas of Texas to turn Republican. It voted Republican in all but one presidential election from 1952 to 2004, the lone break coming when native Texan Lyndon Johnson carried it in his 44-state landslide in 1964. In 2008, Barack Obama was the first Democrat to win the county since Texas native Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The urban core of Houston is safely Democratic, while Suburban areas such as Cypress, Spring, and Katy in the county's western and northern areas, tend to be strongly Republican. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the county by the largest margin for a Democrat since 1964.[26] The Democratic Party performed very strongly in the county during the 2018 elections, as it did nationwide.[27] In 2020, Joe Biden improved Clinton's performance by two points while Donald Trump only increased his vote share by one point. Regardless of the shift towards Democrats and being the most populated county in Texas, for the past 4 elections that it voted for a Democrat, it has always voted to the right of Dallas, Travis, Bexar, and El Paso, each of which have a smaller population.[28]

In 2013, Allen Turner of the Houston Chronicle said that residents of Harris County were "consistently conservative in elections" and that they were, according to a Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research opinion poll, "surprisingly liberal on topics such as immigration, gun control and equal matrimonial rights for same-sex couples".[29] Harris is regarded as a moderate or swing county in Texas, and has been a bellwether in presidential elections, voting for winners of every presidential election from 2000 through 2012 (both Barack Obama and Texas resident George W. Bush won the county twice).[29]

As a result of the Obama sweep in 2008, many Democratic candidates in contests for lower-level offices also benefited, and many Republican incumbents were replaced by Democrats in the Harris County courthouse. Some of the defeated Republican district court judges were later re-appointed to vacant District Court benches by Governor Rick Perry. In 2018, Democrats swept the court capturing all 59 seats on the civil, criminal, family, juvenile and probate courts.[30]

The Kinder Institute's Houston Survey in 2018 found that from 2014 through 2018 the number of Houston residents who supported adoption of children by same-sex couples climbed above 50% and remained there, while in 2017 over 56% of residents reported gay or lesbian persons among their circle of close personal friends. A 2013 opinion poll had found that 46% of Harris County residents supported same-sex marriage, up from 37% in 2001. Just above 82% favored offering illegal immigrants a path to citizenship provided they speak English and have no criminal record, holding from 83% in 2013, which was up from 19% in 2009. In 2013, 87% supported background checks for all firearms, the latest year that question was included in the Kinder Houston Survey. This measure has moved up steadily from 60% in 1985 to 69% in 2000.[31][29]

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