On Monday, Donald Trump blasted "suppression polls" for suggesting he could lose the state of Texas on Election Day.
At a rally in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, Trump said that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had personally called him up to assure him that presidential election polls showing Trump with only a narrow lead over former Vice President Joe Biden were wrong.
"So he goes — And then they say, 'President Trump is four points up in Texas.' And the governor calls me from Texas. Great guy, Greg. He said, 'Sir, that's not true. You're up a lot,'" Trump ranted. "But they don't say that. But think of it, you're against oil, we're in Texas, you're against oil, you're against God, you're against guns, in Texas, guns in Texas.'"
There's no doubt Trump has the edge on Biden in Texas, a state that has not voted blue for nearly 45 years. But his lead is narrow, and victory is not a done deal.
FiveThirtyEight indicates Trump's overall polling average hands him a 1.3-point lead in Texas.
In its most recent accounting, the site, simulating the election 40,000 times, found that in 67 out of 100 possible outcomes, Trump wins Texas, and in 33 out of 100 outcomes, Biden does.
But a Data for Progress poll in the state taken over the same time period last week indicated a 1-point lead for Biden, and two recent University of Texas polls showed Biden up by 2 and 3 points, respectively.
This tracks with results from last week, when a Morning Consult poll sampling more than 3,000 likely voters in Texas showed Biden up by 1, and a Quinnipiac University poll showed Biden and Trump in a dead heat, each polling at 47%.
Moreover, Trump's popularity in Texas has never matched that of other presidential candidates. He won Texas in 2016 by 9 points, the thinnest margin for a Republican presidential candidate in more than 20 years.
For contrast, George W. Bush won Texas in both 2000 and 2004 by more than 20 points; John McCain beat Barack Obama in Texas in 2008 by nearly 12 points; and Mitt Romney carried the state in 2012 by nearly 16 points.
Not since Bob Dole in 1996 has a Republican candidate fared so poorly in Texas.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris plans to campaign in Texas as Election Day nears. But Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry stated Sunday that Trump would not be visiting Texas in the next few days.
"Texas is not a battleground state," Perry said flatly.
Texas Democratic Party spokesperson Abhi Rahman disagreed, telling the Texas Tribune this week that Perry was either "delusional or in denial — or a combination of both."
"Texas is the biggest battleground state, period," Rahman said. "Poll after poll shows that Texas is up for grabs and the Trump campaign still doesn't give a damn about the votes or the lives of Texans."
Rahman told the Caller-Times in Corpus Christi last week: "Texas added 1.8 million new registered voters since 2016, and based on what we know about them, we think 60 percent of them are likely to be Democrats."
Experts and political figures have noted that no one really knows what will happen in Texas come Election Day. The race is up in the air, and a Trump victory, while far from secured, remains one likely outcome.
But a Biden win is seen as a possible scenario for the state as well.
Jim Henson of the University of Texas/Texas Tribune polls noted earlier this month that although a Biden victory in Texas "has not become probable, it's gone into the realm of the plausible."
Beto O'Rourke, the former Democratic congressman and candidate for U.S. Senate, collaborated with Tory Gavito, co-founder and president of the progressive organization Way to Win, on an op-ed published in the Washington Post in which they argue that Biden could win Texas if he invested energy and money into the effort.
O'Rourke and Gavito note that Texas polls are unreliable and tend to underestimate Democratic voter turnout, since Texas has many transplants, young voters, and voters of color whose voting habits are hard to predict. They say that Texas polls "underestimated Hillary Clinton's performance by 4.9 percent" in 2016.
"That gives us reason to believe polling in Texas this cycle masks a potential Biden victory," O'Rourke and Gavito write. "He has consistently been running better than any Democratic candidate in decades. You would have to look back to 1976 — the last time a Democratic presidential candidate won Texas — for a race this tight."
O'Rourke himself lost his race in 2018 to incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz by a mere 2.6%, the closest a Democratic challenger has come to winning a statewide race for the Senate since 1978.
"Turnout is completely unprecedented," said Lina Hidalgo, a judge in Harris County, Texas. "And you better bet that the folks who are turning out are not turning out to keep the status quo."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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