Becoming an Informed Voter
Becoming an Informed Voter – Researching My Congressional Delegation
What is the Political History of your district and State?
Harris County in the state of Texas was formed in the winter of 1836, and was first called Harrisburg County after an early settler named John Richard Harris. The name changed from Harrisburg County to Harris County in 1839. In the United States House of Representatives, Ted Poe, a Republican, currently represents my district (Northwest Harris County). John Whitmire was elected in 1983 as a Democrat, and he represents Northwest Harris County in the Texas Senate. There are seven major districts that are represented in the Texas Legislature. “Over the period since initial statehood in 1845, the constituencies and ideologies of the two major parties we know today have experienced profound transformations. The Republican Party didn't even exist in the United States until just before the Civil War, and barely existed in Texas and the rest of the former Confederacy for several decades after Reconstruction. The Democratic Party evolved from a party closely identified with white racial supremacy to a coalition of groups that included African Americans and ethnic minorities, while the Republican Party slowly gained majority status as a home for social conservatives. Both parties today remain economically conservative, resisting tax increases and regulations on business, while promoting government support of business initiatives.” (The University of Texas at Austin, 2009.) The Populist Party existed from the 1880’s to the 1910’s, and was very significant on both the state and national levels. The Populist Party was formed to represent the interests of laborers and farmers in the 1890s, and was known for advocating the unlimited coinage of silver. Ross Perot, a Dallas billionaire, created the Reform Party in the late 1990s. The Reform party believes in the basic values on how the government should work today. The top priorities that the Reform party issued to the government are: “Setting higher ethical standards for the White House and Congress, Balancing the budget, Campaign and election reform, Imposing term limits, Tax system overhaul, Revisions to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security plans, Revising trade and immigration policies to promote jobs in the U.S., and Lobbying reform.” (Elissa Haney, 2014) Other parties, such as the Libertarian party and the Green party have enjoyed the support of a small number of devoted citizens throughout the county. “Texas political culture and ideology are well described by the combination of three main philosophical streams: classical liberalism, social conservatism and populism.” (The University of Texas at Austin, 2009.)
How have they voted in recent presidential and congressional elections? Presidential elections:
During the 2008 presidential election, Democratic candidate Barack Obama won the majority of votes in Harris County, Texas, which includes the city of Houston and surrounding communities. It was a narrow victory in Texas’ biggest county, with Obama winning only 50.5% of the vote against the Republican candidate, John McCain. In the most recent presidential election of 2012, the margin of victory was even smaller when they elected Democratic President Barack Obama with 49.39% of the vote, over his challenger, Mitt Romney, with 49.31%. However, in the statewide vote for the presidential candidates, Mitt Romney won Texas with 57.17% of the voters, and Barack Obama only got 41.38%. Even in 2008, John McCain won Texas with 56% of the voters, and Obama only got 44%.
In the recent congressional elections, the majority of the district voted for Republican candidate, Ted Poe. He defeated the democratic candidate Nick Lampson by a margin of 55.5% to Lampson’s 43%.
Can your district or state be...
References: Stephen Witham. Becoming an Informed Voter. Liberty University, 2014.
Barone, Michael. The Almanac of American Politics 2014. University of Chicago
Wilson Q. James. American Government, Brief Version. 11th ed. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. 2009, 2012, 2014.
Gu, Paul. Harris County History. TX Political Almanac, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.txpoliticalalmanac.com/index.php?title=Harris_County
About John. Texans for Senator John Cornyn, Inc. 2014. Retrieved from http://www.johncornyn.com/about-john/
Harris County, Houston County Website. Harris County History. CountyWebsite.com, Inc. 2014.
Governors of Texas, 1846-present
Elissa Haney. Reform School: A primer on the political party founded by Ross Perot and boosted by the governorship of Jesse Venture. Pearson Education, 2000-2014. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/reformparty1.html
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