Not since 1976 has Texas gone blue in a presidential election year. But are the numbers on the Democratic Party's side?
Some experts say yes, pointing to the collision of two trends -- Hispanics' overwhelming support for President Barack Obama on Tuesday, and the growing number of Hispanics in the Lone Star State.
But even party officials acknowledge that the road ahead is long, and members of the Texas GOP -- which just sent the first Hispanic from the state to the U.S. Senate -- promise to "wake up" and find a way to connect.
"We will become a blue state much sooner than later," said state Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa. But "there is a lot of work to do. I'm not going to deny it."
After a campaign that included harsh rhetoric on immigration reform, Hispanics provided more support for Obama in 2012 than in 2008, the only major demographic group to do so, according to exit polls across the nation.
Obama received 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, compared with 27 percent for Mitt Romney. And turnout mattered: Ten percent of the voters were Hispanic, compared with 9 percent in 2008.
Texas Hispanics mirrored the nationwide trends, although turnout numbers were not available.
Hinojosa said the numbers show that Texas Hispanics and other minorities are helping Democrats make inroads, especially in the major urban centers of Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso -- all of which went for Obama.
Tarrant County bucked the trend, going heavily for Romney.
Political experts and Hispanic leaders say that for Texas Democrats to pull off a transition from red to blue, the party must mobilize Hispanic voters, using the same kind of ground game that the president's campaign workers did in Tuesday's election. They could also, some say, take lessons from the campaign of state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, whose pro-family messaging helped build a coalition that lifted her to victory in one of the nation's most conservative counties.
Many Republicans, meanwhile, acknowledge that they must find a way to energize Hispanic voters, perhaps by softening their stance on immigration reform.
"The giant has awakened," said Juan Hernandez, co-founder of the Hispanic Republicans of Texas. "The Republican Party must wake up to this new electorate."
Hernandez said Romney could have done a much better job of embracing Hispanics.
"He is the son of a Mexican. He kept that quiet," Hernandez said. "That should have been a plus, not a negative."
Dreamers got out the vote in crucial states
If Hispanic voters emerged as the darlings of Obama's victory, the words "groundwork," "mobilization" and "coalition" became the political buzzwords.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro told CNN that while Hispanics have embraced Democrats at the national level, Texas remains red because the grassroots efforts to enlist Hispanics are not consistent statewide.
Still, Castro said, "Within the next six to eight years, I believe Texas will be at least be a purple state, if not a blue state."
Going to door to door and making face-to-face contact is especially effective with Hispanic voters because it empowers them, experts say. Such efforts were in play this election in battleground states as well as parts of Texas.
"They were in all the key states and it was critical that they turn out," said Valerie Martinez-Ebers, professor of political science at the University of North Texas and an editor of the American Political Science Review.
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