The FiveThirtyEight polling average for the Lone Star State has Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump by the slightest of margins – literally, one-tenth of a percentage point – and one new survey gives Biden an even bigger lead:
Former Vice President Joe Biden has built a five-point lead over President Donald Trump in Texas as unease over Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic mounts, a new Dallas Morning News/University of Texas at Tyler poll has found.
Biden had 46% support to Trump’s 41%. If the general election were held today, the outcome could depend on the 14% of voters who were undecided or named someone else.
Biden’s lead, which comes after he and Trump were tied 43%-43% in The News and UT-Tyler’s April survey, is significant, if barely: The poll, conducted June 29 through July 7, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.24 percentage points.
The story behind Biden’s slight bulge is the softening of the Republican incumbent’s support among independents and “weak partisans,” said Kenneth Bryant Jr., a UT-Tyler political scientist who helped design the poll.
“While President Trump has and still enjoys near universal approval from Republicans, and overwhelming disfavor from Democrats, he has lost considerable ground among the folks in the middle, who may ultimately decide who wins Texas in November,” Bryant said.
For years, Democrats have been counting on demographic change to flip this deeply red state, so these results must be absolutely mouth-watering. But is Joe Biden really going to beat Donald Trump in Texas this fall?
Meh, probably not. Every year seems to be the year Texas votes Democratic, but it never happens. (Remember Beto O’Rourke? No? He was a big deal once, I swear.)
The thing is, Biden doesn’t need Texas to win the election. He just needs it to be close. Donald Trump, by contrast, cannot win re-election without holding Texas.
Trump’s fluke win – and for all the talk about what it means about the American character, I still say it was very much a fluke – came about because he pulled out razor-thin victories in Rust Belt states Hillary Clinton thought she had in the bag, like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Trump needs to win them again, and the polling is looking extremely bad for him in 2020.
The point is, Trump needs to throw everything he has at these states. But if he has divert desperately resources to Texas – not to mention other traditionally red states like Georgia and Arizona, where Biden is competitive – that hurts him in the swing states. It’s the political equivalent of Hitler sending troops to bail out Mussolini in he Balkans while he was planning his invasion of the USSR, and we know how that turned out.
(To be fair, Biden could make the same miscalculation and divert his scarce resources to states he’s unlikely to win, but my hope is that he learned from Clinton’s mistakes in 2016.)
As long as Biden keeps the pressure on in Texas, it throws the Trump campaign into further turmoil. And it could be a moot point anyway, with Trump also needing the state hardest hit by COVID-19 to win.
Meanwhile, he’s retweeting game show hosts who insist that the virus is a big hoax. That ought to play well in the Sunshine State. (“The virus that killed your grandparents is a scam. I’m Donald Trump and I approved this message.”)