Fall Forecast Has GOP on Runaway Trump Train
with 20 Blue Flips in House Majority Showdown
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
August 20, 2020
Texas Competitive Races in General Election
Texas Congress Races to Watch Fall Forecast
President Donald Trump's foiled attempt to sabotage the 2020 vote with postal service cutbacks was an act of unprecedented desperation that suggests that he fears that Democrat Joe Biden has a substantially larger lead than the polling shows with just 10 weeks left before the general election.
The postal paranoia and piracy shenanigans will make it even harder for the Republicans to protect their majority in the Legislature's lower chamber this fall even if Trump finds a way to salvage Texas as the only swing state he might have a chance to win in November.
The presidential meddling with the USPS is a politically suicidal move that will be poisonous for down-ballot in Texas where the Capitol Inside crystal ball forecast now has Democrats flipping 20 seats in the state House in 2020. A worst-case scenario would be closer to a net gain of two dozen seats in the ground zero of state politics that's known as the Texas House of Representatives.
Every day it gets worse for the party that's ruled the west wing of the statehouse in Austin. Trump began the past week with the incredible announcement that he planned to try to steal the election at the post office to keep the Democrats from doing so. Texas Republicans in a rapidly-growing number of swing races had to be cringing in unison this week amid revelations that Trump had written fawning letters of admiration to Russian President Vladimir Putin before the 2016 election. .
The GOP majority protection bid moved one step closer to life support on Thursday with reports on former chief Trump strategist being charged with defrauding donors with a border wall slush fund. The stories on the Steve Bannon contributor thievery allegations broke today about the same time a U.S. Senate report on Trump business partners on ventures in Russia being tied to the Mafia, human trafficking and money laundering.
The outlook here just two weeks ago had the Democrats in position to wrestle 17 seats away from a GOP that's ruled the chamber since 2003 and has an 83-67 advantage now heading into the first election here during a major pandemic in more than 100 years. But Trump has been on a historic roll in August as the leader of a ticket that he's turned into a time bomb while showing no concern whatsoever for the Republicans on the ballot below him.
While the 2020 election is the most unpredictable in modern times if not ever, the Republicans in competitive contests in Texas this fall will have to move with gold medal speed between now and November in a desperation attempt to distance themselves from the disaster at the top of the ticket. But as Ronald Reagan used to say - you can run but you can't hide from the truth.
The events of the past two weeks alone have prompted a wholesale reshuffling of Texas House races in districts that the GOP is trying to defend into the leans and likely Democrat and coin flip columns. The LIKELY DEM category now has three state House battles in districts that are red now along with one Texas Senate and one congressional contest here with the GOP on the defensive.
Fights for a half-dozen House seats that the Republicans currently control are designated as LEANS DEM while 12 GOP districts are listed now as TOSS UPs. A handful of U.S. House races for seats the GOP hopes to keep are LEANS DEM while three more are in the TOSS UP column.
The Democrats probably can expect to flip several other Republican state House districts that appear as LEANS GOP now. No Republican in a district where Trump received less than 65 percent of the vote in 2016 should consider themselves immune from the blue monsoon.
Governor Greg Abbott has been a detriment to the GOP's survival quest here as the lone commander of a Texas coronavirus response that's been a failure. The Republican quest to retain the wheel in the lower chamber has gone down every time that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has appeared on Fox News as the Trump campaign chairman in Texas. Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen got the ball rolling for the Democrats a year ago with a political plotting plan gone awry. But the Bonnen targeting caper seems like nothing now in hindsight.
Trump has helped turn Kamala Harris into the best vice-presidential nominee in history with false and racist smear tactics that he fired off on Twitter after Joe Biden tapped her last week to be his running mate. Harris is Trump's worst nightmare besides himself - and her addition to the Democratic ticket has contributed to the elevation of the projected gains for the Democrats on the Texas legislative and congressional battlefields this fall.
Vice President Mike Pence's signature achievement has been as the leader of a coronavirus task force that's appeared to evaporate with Anthony Fauci as the only member who speaks with credibility and authority on the contagion. Pence sought to persuade Texans that the COVID-19 threat had been dramatically overblown by devious Democrats. Pence's attempt to enlighten Americans as the presidential task force chairman came about the same time that the number of cases in Texas was skyrocketing this week.
Trump has recommended disinfectant spray in the lungs as a COVID-19 preventative while peddling snake oil in the form of a controversial drug that doctors have urged people to avoid. Trump rejected a national testing plan at the outset of the crisis because he speculated that it would help blue states. Trump has demonstrated a stunning ignorance of the most elementary science - contending that testing creates cases when experts agree that it's the number one weapon that the world has in the war on the virus. Trump's only signature initiative during the pandemic has been the unveiling of a magnificent National Garden of Heroes as a new national park that would be filled with statues of his favorite people from the present and the past. Trump announced the hero worship park at Mount Rushmore on the eve of the Fourth of July when he also inquired about having his head added to the presidential tourist attraction monument.
The presidential race appears to be a coin flip at this point in time in Texas where it probably will be extremely close if Trump carries the state like every GOP nominee for the White House has done here for the past 40 years. But the potential landslide that appears to be shaping up at the top of the ticket could carry over into Texas with a Biden win by a half-dozen points or more at the current rate that the incumbent has been coming apart at the seams.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn could be a saving grace for the GOP as a possible firewall to some degree from the contagious president in the race on the ballot right above him. But the revised forecast here has the U.S. Senate race in Texas as a 50-50 bet as well with Democrat MJ Hegar as a formidable challenger who's poised for a blue wave ride less than three months from now.