Newspapers in Texas have been writing about the “Blue Spine” for years. According to The Houston Chronicle, the name comes from the shape of a group of counties that snakes down the state along Interstate 35 from Gainesville in Cooke County in the north to Laredo in Webb County on the Mexican border. These counties have seen enormous demographic growth and also have been experimenting relevant political shift.
But exactly, which counties belong to this “Blue Spine ”. According to the data reporter Brendon Derr and the political analyst Jeremy Wallace, the counties that make up this political microregion are: Bell, Bexas, Collin, Comal, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Falls, Frio, Guadalupe, Hays, Hills, Johnson, La Salle, McLennan, Medina, Tarrant, Travis, Webb and Williamson. These counties represent the 8% of Texas counties but are responsible for 45% of the population growth in the state during the last decade, adding nearly 2 million voters. The demographic changes also brought completely new political dynamics to all these counties.
In 2014, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn won these counties by almost 350,000 total votes. In 2018, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz lost the same counties by 440,000 votes. In 2020, President Trump lost those counties by 493,000 votes. That’s about an 800,000-vote swing in the electorate in just six years. This year, as Democratic candidate for governor Beto O’Rourke seeks to send Abbott out of office, the Blue Spine will be crucial for achieving that as this region has some of the most important Democratic strongholds in the state like Dallas and Travis counties.