The Rise of the Republicans: Party Realignment in Twentieth Century Texas

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This dissertation is a study of the political transformation of Texas during the twentieth century from a predominantly Democratic to a two-party state. It is commonly asserted that the fundamental conservatism of Texas voters led them to abandon the national Democratic Party as it embraced more liberal reforms. This shift led to a rise in support in Texas for the Republican Party, which continued to advocate a more conservative agenda. But this change demands a more thorough explanation at the local level, in part because such a study can also reveal other factors at work. This dissertation first examines how ... continued below

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Antle, Michael L. December 2012.

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  • Antle, Michael L.

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Description

This dissertation is a study of the political transformation of Texas during the twentieth century from a predominantly Democratic to a two-party state. It is commonly asserted that the fundamental conservatism of Texas voters led them to abandon the national Democratic Party as it embraced more liberal reforms. This shift led to a rise in support in Texas for the Republican Party, which continued to advocate a more conservative agenda. But this change demands a more thorough explanation at the local level, in part because such a study can also reveal other factors at work. This dissertation first examines how prohibition impacted the state's political status quo and provided an opportunity for the Republican Party to increase its numbers. It then discusses the New Deal and the growth of Texas's oil industry, and how government regulation shaped political developments. The impact of urbanization and suburbanization on Republican growth are also addressed, along with numerous campaigns that reflected the changes occurring in Texas's electorate during this time. Although Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1952 and 1956 wins in Texas were a strong indication of the realignment among Texas voters, it was John G. Tower's election to the United States Senate that served as the first catalyst for the Republicans' dream of a two-party state. Following the election of Tower, the Republicans faced setbacks from the landslide victory of Lyndon B. Johnson after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, followed by the Watergate scandal, but they managed to rebound effectively. Thus, in addition to addressing the question of what spurred the rise of the Republican Party in Texas during the first half of the twentieth century, this dissertation provides more nuanced answers to the question of how Texas became a two-party state by 1988, which of course paved the way for a Republican triumph just ten years later.

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  • December 2012

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  • Aug. 13, 2013, 2:47 p.m.

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  • Nov. 16, 2016, 1:17 p.m.

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Antle, Michael L. The Rise of the Republicans: Party Realignment in Twentieth Century Texas, dissertation, December 2012; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc177173/: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .