Twilight of the Texas Democrats
The 1978 Governor's Race
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
HISTORIANS OFTEN ARGUE whether the individual shapes the times or the times shape the individual. Political history often revolves around that question. The answer is not always clear. Why Texas voters rejected a century of political tradition in 1978 in favor of a Republican as governor stems from a combination of factors that had built over several decades in post–World War II Texas. Changes...
Chapter 1. TEXAS IN 1978
DESTINY CAN ARISE either out of the labor of men or out of the creations of some greater cosmic force. These philosophical questions of whether individuals make history or remain helpless to the forces of time frame many questions over the choices that societies make. Elections typically provide the opportunity for the people either to ratify the status quo or call for a change in...
Chapter 2. THE DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION
“I SAY IF THEY DON’T LIKE political jokes, they shouldn’t elect them,” quipped former Texas Gov. Preston Smith as he wandered the dusty political trails of West Texas.1 Texas politics had always managed to produce eccentric characters and campaigns replete with sometimes bizarre entertainment, either bitterly tragic or morbidly hilarious. The 1978 Democratic primary would...
Chapter 3. A FAMILY AFFAIR: THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY
WITH EACH NEW ELECTION CYCLE, the hopes of Texas Republicans soared with the eager anticipation of a breakthrough year. But with each year, these hopes crumbled under the November election totals. Since John Tower’s upset victory in the special election to the United States Senate in 1961, the party had...
Chapter 4. EYE OF THE STORM (includes images)
“JOHN HILL WILL BE governor of Texas,” boasted the Texas Observer after Hill’s primary victory.1 Liberals and progressives across the state leaped for joy over the election results. Their champion, though an avowed moderate, seemed poised to reclaim the governor’s mansion from the conservatives for the first time since the Great Depression. From...
Chapter 5. THE BEST-LAID PLANS
BILL CLEMENTS HAD SEEN the early poll numbers circulating around the state. The first polls in late May showed Hill over Clements by 52 points. Clements laughed at the numbers and brushed them aside. Clements believed he would win by a comfortable margin that he repeated at every opportunity: “I’ll beat him about 53 percent...
Chapter 6. “AND THE PEOPLE WIN EVERY TIME”: November 7, 1978
VOTERS SURGED TO THE POLLS on that fateful Tuesday. Newspapers across the state exhorted Texas residents to vote. As the Houston Post argued, “If you do not vote today, you are handing your vote to the candidates you do not want to see in office.”1 Strong voter...
Chapter 7. THE ONCE AND FUTURE GOVERNOR
“THIS WAS A CAMPAIGN never to be repeated,” said David Dean.1 Praise and blame circulated around the state almost immediately to answer the question of why the election ended with a Republican victory. The drive and resources of the Bill Clements campaign had taken the state by storm, stunning observers with his victory....
Appendix A. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION TOTALS IN TEXAS, 1968-1988
Appendix B. DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY RESULTS BY COUNTY
Appendix C. 1978 GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION TOTALS AND PERCENTAGES
Appendix D. DEMOCRATIC TURNOUT, 1978 GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION
Appendix E. GUBERNATORIAL VOTING TRENDS, 1974-1982
Appendix F. 1978 GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS BY COUNTY
Appendix G. TEXAS VOTER REGISTRATION AND TURNOUT TOTALS, 1970-1990
Appendix H. GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION RESULTS, 1968-1990
Page Count: 234
Illustrations: 7 b&w photos. 2 maps. 8 tables.
Publication Year: 2008
Series Title: Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University
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