Biden Could Have Edge in Stretch in Texas
that Trump May See as Face Saving Source
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
October 25, 2020
The Texas highways from the Capital City to the coast are sprouting with President Donald Trump billboards that most voters here will never see because they quit traveling nine months ago as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
With Democrat Joe Biden starting to pass Trump in the polls in Texas, the late infusion of funds for rivers of massive outdoor ads has raised the specter that the president could be shifting his goal from trying to win to landslide prevention.
Trump has been infuriated with the proliferation of billboards that are mocking him and his family from Times Square to Interstate-10 outside of Houston. The president's camp may think that it can mitigate the damage by throwing up a dozen giant roadside advertisements for every insulting sign that voters could confuse with one of his own because they are designed to look the same.
But the belated billboard buy gives the initial impression that Trump must be truly concerned about losing Texas with a re-election campaign that's weaving wildly toward the finish line with smoke pouring out of the tailpipe.
Trump has to know that he has no chance to beat Biden if he can't win here without having to work for it. But the billboard blitz is diverting funds from states that have become more must-win than Texas in the antique Electoral College scheme.
Biden is playing the odds by ignoring Texas at a time when it's the only battleground state that's no longer really relevant after several years of hype. Biden is concentrating his cash on states where it can have maximum bang.
But Biden could have the state's 38 electoral votes handed him on the all-time silver platter after pulling dead even with the president in Texas in the most recent polling with a campaign that's peaking in a stunning juxtaposition with an incumbent who's flying off the track.
Biden was up on Trump by 3 percentage points in Texas on Sunday in a poll that was made public today by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas Tyler. The DMN-UT Tyler survey of 925 likely Texas voters found Biden favored by 48 percent of the voters compared to 45 percent for Trump. That's a four point swing from a one point deficit in a DMN-UT Tyler poll late this summer.
Trump trailed Biden by 1 point in a poll last week by Morning Consult while the two were tied at 47 percent apiece in a Quinnipiac University survey the day before. The ABC News analytics site FiveThirtyEight showed Trump's lead in Texas to have completely evaporated with the president and Biden running neck and neck at nearly 48 percent each. FiveThirtyEight had Trump in front in Texas by almost 3 points a week ago.
The polling on the explosive showdown for the White Houe in 2020 is more suspect than ever in the midst of a pandemic that's had a dramatic effect on life in America throughout the past nine months.
But Biden clearly owns the momentum with a campaign that could be peaking at the perfect time in the closing days before an election that's revolved around the health crisis that Trump has been shrugging off despite a deluge of bad publicity with five high-level members on Vice President Mike Pence's staff testing positive in the latest White House outbreak.
Capitol Inside had forecast a Biden win in Texas three weeks ago with a margin of victory at 0.1 percent. But Biden is sending U.S. Senator Kamala Harris to Texas on Friday for a highly rare appearance by a Democratic presidential running mate here in a potential sign of a scorched earth ending with Texas as the crowning blow.
Biden appears to be in the process of flipping the script in Texas after trailing Trump by 4 or 5 points here throughout the summer and the first month of the fall. A Biden victory of 2 points or more is conceivable at this point but the damage could be substantially worse without a spectacular turnaround by the president in the next week.
Trump's erratic recent behavior has been priceless ammunition for the Democrats in targeted congressional districts where Republicans like U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Houston are running from the president while being tied to him in attack ads that are flooding the television airwaves. The billboards are reminders of that assocation.
All of the Democratic contenders in races for the Legislature and Congress have Trump as their common and foremost opponent despite the names of GOP foes on the ballot beside them.