The Lone Star State is up for grabs, a first in more than three decades of US presidential elections.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is still leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Texas, but only by 4.8 points, according political website RealClearPolitics, which averages polls from various sources. Such a slight difference makes the state a statistical toss-up, according to the site, which had previously classified Texas as leaning towards Trump.
Texas hasn’t elected a Democratic president since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Ronald Reagan, a Republican, won the following 1980 election by a landslide. Ever since, Democratic candidates haven’t really stood a chance.
While Democrats have made inroads in big cities such as Dallas and Houston, there are currently no Democrats serving in a statewide elected position.
Democrats are now ramping up get-out-the vote efforts in the state that until recently seemed like a lost cause. Texas accounts for 38 electoral votes (more than any other state, after California), and would be a huge boost for Clinton.
Democrats have been predicting that Texas would turn blue for a while, pointing to its rapidly growing Hispanic population, which tends to favor their party. But the “sleeping giant,” as the Latino vote has been dubbed, failed to wake up with each passing election despite ambitious campaigning.
Trump’s tough stance on immigration—along with offensive comments such as “bad hombres” made during the last debate—might finally stir the giant. Trump’s immigration comments could be putting off some Republicans as well. GOP members in Texas have traditionally been more open on immigration—or at least not as brazenly hostile to it—than Trump. Former president George W. Bush is a chief example of that class of Texan Republican.
Whatever happens, one thing is clear: Texan voters seem particularly motivated this election. Record numbers of Texans in key urban counties showed up to the polls yesterday (Oct. 24), for the first day of early voting.