Recent polling suggests that President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are virtually tied in Texas, but the presidential race is not the only contest where that is the case. Republican Sen. John Cornyn is up for reelection this year and he has to fend off a formidable Democratic challenger.
According to veteran Republican Party operative Bill Miller, "it is a very serious moment for Republicans in Texas."
"Any Republican that doesn't take the moment seriously will be surprised in a very bad way in November. They have to be alert and engaged or they'll find themselves in trouble with a capital T."Thanks largely to demographic changes, the Texas Democratic Party has become one of the biggest in the nation. Biden's campaign reportedly plans on investing significant money and resources in the state.
Republicans seem to have lost ground in suburbia, especially with women and independent voters.
Areas surrounding Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston now appear to lean Democrat. As longtime Republican strategist Corbin Casteel explained, "the suburbs are a concern because any time your stronghold is showing weakness, it needs to be shored up."
Casteel said that Trump appears to have missed an opportunity to lead "with compassion" amid the protests over George Floyd's death. The strategist added that he nevertheless expects Trump to win Texas in November, but only by six points, which would be the closest margin in modern times.
Casteel concluded that Trump losing Texas to Biden would result in "devastation" in down-ballot races.
Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based Republican operative, echoed Miller and Casteel's concerns. Steinhauser said that Biden has a chance in Texas if Republican voters stay home on election day or show up at the polls but only vote for GOP candidates in congressional and local races.
"I do think the state is in play and it's going to be decided by a narrow margin," Steinhauser said, pointing out that Democrat Beto O'Rourke dominated in the suburbs when he ran against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz two years ago. However, the strategist added that Republicans "should be OK" if voters actually turn out for Trump.While Trump and Biden may be tied in Texas, the situation is quite different nationwide. According to recent polling, Biden has surged past the commander-in-chief. For instance, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last week showed that Trump is trailing Biden by seven points.