Mr. Bell lost overall but defeated GOP incumbent Gov. Rick Perry in Dallas, Travis and El Paso counties, and he lost only by narrow margins in Harris and Bexar counties. Among the six major urban counties, only Tarrant favored Mr. Perry by a significant amount.
You may think the poor Perry showing is because he had so many challengers, with two viable independents on the ballot. But go back to 2004. Believe it or not, President Bush, running for re-election as president, drew less than 60 percent of the vote in every big urban county except Tarrant.
Look also at Tuesday's Democratic landslide in Dallas County. The party swept the top-ticket county judge and district attorney's races, along with all contested judgeships. That's in Dallas, folks, once the epicenter of conservatism.
Bottom line: Democrats are gaining momentum in the state's urban centers. They have an opening in areas with big media markets, plenty of voters and not your average red-staters.
The result? Not only was no Democratic incumbent defeated in the Texas Legislature, but Democrats managed to flip five Texas House seats, all in urban areas. And the general Republican massacre in Dallas County has been well-publicized at this point.
The five counties that Bell either won or lost narrowly in-Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Harris and Travis-altogether have a population of about 9.1 million people (by the 2000 census), against a total Texas population of about 22 million. That works out to about 40% of the total population of Texas concentrated in urban areas that are favorable to Democrats, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, or lean slightly Republican. That offers a significant advantage to the right kind of Democratic candidates who can peel away rural, conservative voters who normally vote Republican. Given the projected continued growth of urban areas, as well as their trend towards minorities who lean Democratic, Democrats are likely to continuing making gains in urban areas (see Virginia, where just such a trend is what helped propel Webb over Allen in the Senate race.)
In other words, the numbers look good. You certainly can't ignore the general anti-Republican mood that pervaded the mid-terms this year, and his doesn't mean that Texas is going to turn blue anytime soon by any means (if ever), but it does mean that Texas Democrats are poised to make steady gains in the coming years.