Texas 3rd District
North Dallas, the putative location of the 1980s television program “Dallas,” conjures up a certain image of sudden affluence and insolent disdain for those who don’t have it and of shady dealings and immoral trysts in an environment of outward embrace of traditional values. The caricature doesn’t tell the whole story. Dallas got its start as a railroad junction and cotton-shipping center. In recent decades, it has been at the cutting edge of high-technology, and is the home of Texas Instruments, where an integrated circuit on a silicon chip was invented in 1958, and of Electronic Data Systems, the source of former independent presidential candidate Ross Perot’s fortune. The high-tech, telecommunications and defense businesses are less robust than in the 1980s, but the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex continues to thrive. Growth has come from corporate headquarters relocated from less business-friendly precincts, from small businesses, and from companies making money trading with Mexico. Dallas is the nation’s chief beneficiary of the North America Free Trade Agreement. Health care and universities have created many jobs.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Dallas’s growth has extended far into the countryside. The home of the city’s old elite may still be in the mansion-lined streets of Highland Park, only a few miles north of downtown, but Dallas’s business and professional classes have moved farther in Dallas County and up into Collin County’s scrub-covered hills. Back in 1960, Collin County was mostly rural, still part of the district that sent Democratic Speaker Sam Rayburn to the House. It had 41,000 people then, and actually lost population in the 1950s. Then the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex exploded. Collin County’s population grew from 66,000 in 1970 to 730,000 in 2007. It is now the third-wealthiest and the seventh-largest county in Texas. The biggest city here is Plano, with 261,000 people. This former farming community is now the corporate headquarters of companies such as EDS, which was purchased by Hewlett-Packard in 2008, but remained in Plano, and also Dr. Pepper and J.C. Penney. This edge city is the state’s ninth-largest site of mega-mansion subdivisions and the new face of successful Texas. The fastest growth is in the old county seat of McKinney; its population has more than doubled since 2000, to 121,000. Politically, Collin County has been very Republican, even more Republican than Dallas County ever was.
The 3rd Congressional District of Texas includes most of Collin County and centers on Plano. It also covers the northeastern corner of Dallas County, beyond the LBJ Freeway, including much of Rowlett and Garland. In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain got 60% of the vote in the Collin County portion of the district, and he trailed Democratic candidate Barack Obama by 221 votes in Dallas County, which cast 27% of the total. Overall, McCain led 57%-42%, a big drop from President George W. Bush’s 70%-30% win in 2000.