Biden Leads Trump in Texas Poll

Democrats are hoping they have a chance in the normally reliably-red Lone Star State.

Texas is moving into presidential battleground territory for the first time in 44 years, with another poll showing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden a hair's breadth ahead of President Donald Trump.
FILE - In this June 30, 2020, file photo Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The survey released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University has Biden with the support of 45% of Texas voters to 44% for Trump. The former vice president has a commanding lead among independents, taking 51% of their support compared to 32% for Trump.

Texas has long been a GOP stronghold, to the point where Republican presidential nominees barely need to campaign there to secure the Lone Star State's place in the red column. It is still a relatively conservative state, with the GOP holding every statewide elected post and having control of both chambers of the state legislature.

But this year could be a perfect storm for Biden in Texas, where changing demographics have been giving opportunities for Democrats and where voters are increasingly worried about the coronavirus and unhappy with the president's handling of the issue.

With cases of the virus spiking, nearly two-thirds of voters – 65% – say the pandemic is "out of control" in Texas, with just 31% disagreeing with that statement, the Quinnipiac poll found. Three-fourths of Texans call the spread of the coronavirus a "serious problem."

That's bad news for Trump, who not only has a negative job approval rating in Texas (51% disapprove of the president while 45% approve), but who gets the same marks for his handling of the historic public health crisis. Moreover, asked who would be better at handling the coronavirus, 48% of Texans said Biden, and 45% said Trump would be better.

On another major issue facing the country – racial inequality – Trump lags far behind Biden, with 51% saying Biden is better at handling the matter, and 39% saying Trump would be better. On the overall question of who is better dealing with a generic crisis – Trump or Biden – the voters were divided, with each candidate getting 47% support.

"With crises swirling through American society and a country deeply divided, there's no other way to slice it. It's a tossup in Texas," Tim Malloy, director of the poll, said in a statement.

There is virtually no path to re-election for Trump if he loses Texas. However, competing in the Lone Star State, with its numerous media markets, would be an expensive proposition for Biden, who can rack up the necessary 270 Electoral College votes without Texas. If Biden does score a massive upset in Texas, he almost certainly would have won many other, more competitive states to sew up a victory.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has imposed a mask mandate in public in some areas of Texas as the state has become a new hotspot in the pandemic. Eight in 10 Texans approve of Abbott's directive, the Quinnipiac poll found, with 19% disapproving. Trump has made mask-wearing a cultural wedge issue, and has rarely worn a mask in public. This week, however, he tweeted that wearing a mask is patriotic and encouraged Americans to do it.

Democrats are experiencing glimmers of hope in Texas, which has voted Republcian for president every year since 1980. Increasing urbanization has brought more Democratic-leaning voters to the state, and Trump is losing some support in the suburbs in Texas, as he has in suburbs around the country, pollsters say.

Polling in the late spring showing Biden competitive with Trump in Texas was received cautiously, as candidates often get a boost after securing the nomination, as Biden did formally in early June. But with a series of polls showing similar trends, the race for the GOP's biggest – and usually reliable – prize is now a dead heat.

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