Amarillo is closer to Pierre, South Dakota than it is to Brownsville, in the same state. It will take you less time to drive I-10 from Houston to Tallahassee, Florida than to drive to El Paso. The town of Orange, on the Texas-Lousiana border, is halfway between Jacksonville and El Paso. It’s a big state, it’s a diverse state, and this political season is making the Eastern press crazy, or should I say, crazier than usual. It sounds like they just don’t know much about Texas.
This is a big place, and the people who live here are as diverse as the landscape. Cross the state on Interstate 10, from El Paso to Orange and you enter in a dry desert where less than 10 inches of rain falls in a year, and you exit in the Big Thicket, some of the most dense Southern pine forest that exists, and where almost 80 inches of rain falls in a year. We have deserts and mountains in the Trans-Pecos, high plains in the Panhandle, Hill Country in the Southwest, wet coastal plains in the Southeast, rolling plains in the North, brush country in the South, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, flood and just about everything in between.
The people are just as diverse and different in just about every way. There are almost 20 million people in the state, the second most populous in the country, 9 million of them have moved here from somewhere else, including just about every country in the world. The large cities are as different as the contrast between urban and rural lifestyles. Politically, Texas has been a “red state” since Ronald Reagan captured it in 1980, but political opinion shifts fast. Sometimes, in state level and local elections, the university you graduated from can carry more weight than your political party. Texas is unpredictable. Those of us who moved here from somewhere else, but have lived here for quite a while know this. The New York Times is apparently having trouble figuring it out.
Predicting the outcome of the March 4th primary is difficult. I would not have guessed, even as much as a year ago, that the two Republican candidates would be John McCain and Mike Huckabee at this point, nor that Barak Obama would be the candidate packing the professional sports arenas and stadiums, while the Republicans and the Clintons would be having trouble filling hotel banquet rooms and high school auditoriums. I don’t think there is a poll out there that can predict where this will go, either on March 4th or in November. Not in this state. I mean, there are hour long lines at the polls for the early voting.
To the Times, good luck with trying to understand Texas and Texans.