Texas 31st District
Williamson County, Texas, long a rural backwater, has become a major population and business center deep in the heart of Texas. Its population has virtually doubled in every recent decade. It was 77,000 in 1980, 140,000 in 1990, 250,000 in 2000, and 394,000 in 2008. Williamson County is just north of Austin, and much of this growth has been generated by the Austin area’s high-technology boom. Hugely successful computer producer Dell is headquartered in Round Rock, with 18,000 local employees and is still expanding. And more growth has been generated by Texas 130, a 49-mile 10-lane toll road that opened in 2008. Georgetown has become a popular retirement destination. Bell and Coryell counties, just north of Williamson County, are the site of Fort Hood, the largest U.S. military base in the world and the largest employer in Texas. The base is the only post in the United States capable of supporting two full armored divisions. It covers 218,000 acres—340 square miles. Toward the end of World War II, about 4,000 German prisoners of war were interned at Hood. Today, its mission is maintaining readiness for combat missions, including training Army Reservists in urban combat. East of Fort Hood is Temple, a rail center. Decades ago, the freight carried from its rail yards was mostly cotton. Now, it serves a variety of industries, including plastics manufacturers.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 31st Congressional District of Texas, created in the 2001 redistricting and sharply altered in the 2003 Republican redistricting, is dominated by Williamson, Bell and Coryell counties, which account for 92% of its population. Historically this was solidly Democratic country, devoted to the party of the Confederacy and later, the New Deal, full of cotton farmers who distrusted Wall Street and railroads and who trusted politicians like Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson and later Ann Richards and Lloyd Bentsen. But people in this district took a shine to George W. Bush’s brand of Republicanism, first as governor and then as president. In 2004, he carried the district 67%-33%. In 2008, GOP nominee John McCain did not fare as well, getting 57% to 41% for Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Also that year, a Democrat based in Williamson County won a state legislative seat for the first time in more than a decade.