Joe Biden Makes a Play for a Long-Red State

Campaign rolls out ads in Texas as polls show a tight race
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2020 11:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – Much of the Election 2020 coverage has focused on Joe Biden's lead in battleground states. Now it's beginning to appear that Texas, usually a safe Republican bastion, might be considered a battleground state itself. Coverage:

  • Ads: The Biden campaign is rolling out its first ad campaign in the state amid tightening polls, reports CNN. The 60-second spot focuses on the coronavirus, now hitting the state hard. "I'm thinking of all of you today across Texas," Biden says. "I know the rise in case numbers is causing fear and apprehension." Biden urges people to wear masks and practice social distancing, adding, "We're all in this together." The ad doesn't mention Trump, notes the Washington Times. Similar spots are running in Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina, other states seeing a rise in cases.

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  • Those polls: A CBS News/YouGov poll has Trump up by just a point in Texas, within the margin of error, while a Dallas Morning News poll has Biden up by 5 points in the state. Concern about COVID-19 is seen as a major factor. "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," says University of Texas political scientist Kenneth Bryant.
  • Context: Trump won Texas by 9 points in 2016, which was the smallest margin by a Republican nominee since 1996, notes the Texas Tribune. And the state hasn't voted for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Trump, however, says he isn't worried, suggesting the polls are wrong. "I think Texas is going to be very strong for us—all of us—as it was in the past election, 2016," he said at a "tele-town hall" Monday.
  • Strategy: A separate Texas Tribune analysis notes that competing in Texas is tricky business for Biden. It would take a huge effort at great cost and could be ultimately unsuccessful. On the other hand, the Trump campaign might have to shift money away from other battleground states to make sure Trump holds on to Texas. All in all, a strong Biden showing could "reshape the state's politics" by lifting down-ballot Democrats.
  • Another front: Politico reports that Biden is conducting a "massive turnaround campaign" to win the Latino vote after lackluster support in the primaries. It includes hiring a top pollster, Latino Decisions, and rolling out Spanish-language ads in Florida and Arizona. High turnout in those states could be pivotal in denying Trump a second term.
(Read more Election 2020 stories.)

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