It’s no surprise, as a new Quinnipiac poll reveals, that Joe Biden is leading the Democratic primary race in Texas. After all, the former vice president is leading the Democratic pack everywhere . What is eye-catching, however, is the poll’s headline : “BIDEN 48, TRUMP 44.” Yes, Texas, the deep-red Lone Star State, where no Democrat has won a presidential election since 1976, when peanut farmer Jimmy Carter beat incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford. In all 10 presidential races since then, Republicans have won Texas decisively, from George H.W. Bush’s 3.5% win over Bill Clinton to Ronald Reagan’s whopping 27.5% victory over Walter Mondale. Donald Trump himself carried the state by 9 points in 2016.
Could 2020 be the year Democrats turn Texas blue? Pundits have been asking variations of that question for years, as the state has slowly becomes younger and less white . The 2018 midterm elections seemed to be a tipping point, when El Paso native Beto O’Rourke nearly unseated apex conservative Ted Cruz in a hotly contested Senate race, putting the fear of God in Republican strategists that, come 2020, the normally reliable conservative bastion and its 38 electoral votes could go wonky.
That’s not to say that any Democrat could win in Texas. Quinnipiac finds that Trump beats every other Democratic contender not named Joe Biden. But the margin of victory is what’s truly worrisome. According to the poll, Elizabeth Warren only loses to Trump by 1 point, 46% to 45%, in a head-to-head matchup. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is only 2 points behind.
Washington Examiner correspondent and Hive contributor David M. Drucker foretold all this earlier in the year, in a report covering the aftermath of the Beto-Cruz race:
Top Republicans in Texas are sounding the alarm about 2020, warning President Trump could lose the usually reliably red state unless he devotes resources and attention to it typically reserved for electoral battlegrounds.
Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey has delivered this message to the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, GOP donors, and activists in the state. Nationally, Republican operatives and donors have historically taken Texas for granted and directed their financial and organizational muscle to more competitive regions. Separately, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, up for re-election next year, has spoken with new RNC co-chairman Tommy Hicks, a Lone Star State native, about concerns that Trump could lose the state.
Quinnipiac would appear to confirm that’s a very real fear. With an energized Democratic opposition, new and improved turnout operations, and residual optimism from O’Rourke’s near-win—combined with Trump’s persistent low approval rating across the state —it’s possible that Texas (like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania ) might contribute to a 2020 shellacking. With the right candidate, of course.
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