Like the previously published look at Arizona, it seems strange to include Texas in this list of states where things are important and it may be closer than what we are all used to out of the Lone Star state. There is no secret that the Democrats would love to flip this state and hold it in the coming years. If they do, it is “lights out” for the GOP. However, there are three considerations here.
First, there is demographics with an increasing Latino vote which the Democrats would love to get their hooks into. About 50% of voting-age Latinos in Texas live in the five largest (by population) counties with the remainder scattered throughout the state. In 2016, Trump took 34% of the Latino vote in Texas which was good enough for a nine point margin of victory.
Second, the radical agenda of the Democrats including Medicare For All, a Green New Deal, and draconian gun regulations may play well with the metropolitan white liberals, but not so much in other groups.
Third, about a year ago Trump’s approval rating in Texas was at 45% while the most recent polling shows it at 49%. If things hold steady in Texas- and there is no reason to believe they will not- Trump should take this state.
There is a Senate race where GOP incumbent John Cornyn faces off against Mary Hegar for the Democrats. Cornyn sports a 44% approval rating in Texas against 26% disapproval meaning about a third of the electorate is up for grabs. Part of the 26% may be attributable to his leadership role in the GOP-held Senate, and Congress enjoys lower approval ratings than Trump. All-in-all, 44% is not a bad position to be in at this point in the game. Still, he must leave nothing to chance because the Democrats may be smelling blood. This writer is predicting a closer-than-expected Cornyn victory.
Next up are the 36 Congressional races. The GOP holds a 23-13 advantage currently in the House delegation to DC. Six of those 23 Republican seats are open races due to retirements. Two of them are easy retentions for the GOP- the central Texas based 11th District and the northern panhandle-based 13th District. It is also likely that Pete Sessions will win the open race in the 17th District which encompasses the far northern suburbs of Houston.
In the suburbs to the south of Houston in the 22nd District, Troy Nehls is the Republican candidate and one is somewhat sure this will also be retained in a fairly close race. That leaves the 23rd and 24th Districts for open GOP seats of interest. In the 23rd, William Hurd defeated Gina Ortiz Jones by less than 1,000 votes. She is back for the Democrats. That Republican primary went to a runoff and the final tally was so close a winner was not declared until many, many days after the runoff. Given recent dynamics in this district, the GOP will likely lose this seat. In the 24th District, I am putting this in the GOP column in the suburbs to the west of Dallas in a relatively close race.
There are very few Democrat targets in Texas, but two are possibilities. The first is the 7th District where the Democrat incumbent, Lizzie Fletcher, defeated John Culberson in 2018. This district takes in parts of Houston and the suburbs to the west. In 2018, Fletcher portrayed Culberson as an ineffective representative for the district. The problem now is she is the incumbent and the approval ratings of Congress are lower in 2020 than they were in 2018 when she won. Hence, GOP challenger Wesley Hunt can take her 2018 message and shove it right back down her throat. Going on a limb, Hunt will win this race.
That leaves only the 32nd District currently held by Democrat Colin Allred who defeated Pete Sessions in 2018 in a race that was not really that close. But, 2018 was not a good year for the GOP and 2020 has Trump at the top of the ticket. Like the Seventh District, Allred is now the incumbent and the target of Republican Genevieve Collins. If Allred keeps this seat in the column for the Democrats, it will be a lot closer than 2018. However, Trump coupled with the radical Democrat agenda and Allred basically being in lockstep with Pelosi will result in a surprise victory for Collins. This is Cowboys territory and why the folks of this district would vote for a former Tennessee Titans player only shows that 2018 was a bad year for the GOP and/or voters just grew tired of Pete Sessions.
In the presidential sweepstakes, polling shows a tight race with some polls showing Biden leading. Given the enthusiasm gap between Trump and Biden coupled with Biden’s recent apparent animus to the oil and gas industry, there is no way in hell he wins this state. The pollsters showing a Biden victory, or even close to Trump, are outliers. By about the same margin as 2016, Trump takes Texas.
Trump takes the 38 electoral votes out of Texas as Democrats start to poop bricks since all that “Texas turning blue” talk turns into the blues. Trump now trails Biden in the electoral vote count 223-191 as the race tightens. Cornyn keeps his Senate seat and Trump manages to flip two seats for a net gain of one for the GOP in the House delegation. Chuck Schumer is crying as his visions of leadership of the Senate grow dim and the GOP leads 45-41. In the House, it gets way too close for comfort for Nancy Pelosi although the Party of Stupid still leads 173-152.
Next: a trip back to the South and a look at Georgia