Beto O’Rourke, who narrowly lost to Ted Cruz for Texas’s Senate seat in 2018, and Tory Gavito, cofounder of Way to Win, have an op-ed in today’s WaPo urging Biden to fight for Texas’s 38 EVs:

Joe Biden can end the drama on election night. All he has to do is win Texas.

While there are plenty of ways Biden can get past 270 without Texas, there’s no way Trump can. Without Texas, the Malignant Mangoface (currently the Pusillanimous Paleface) is O.U.T. Another point O’Rourke and Gavito make is that Texas will probably be called on election night, meaning that if it goes for Biden, then Trump loses any chance of building momentum for a case that he won on election night and any further counting is an attempt to steal the election from him.

Thanks to Republican efforts to suppress voter turnout, Texas did not expand vote by mail in midst of a global pandemic. As a result, we will know the winner of the Texas presidential election on election night. If Texas turns blue that night, and its 38 electoral votes go to Biden, then Trump would have no viable path to victory, and the election would be over that night, before Trump’s lawyers can get through the courtroom doors to stop the vote counts in other states. If Biden wins Texas along with the likely blue states of Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota and Virginia, he would still win the White House even if he loses all the swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona and Florida. Trump, on the other hand, cannot win without Texas.

Their article points to 538’s Texas polls, which show Trump leading on average 48.1 to 45.8, which is 2.4%. That’s better than yesterday’s 2.6, though worse than Oct. 1, when Biden got within 1.6%. All these are, of course, within the margin of error. But the article stresses that polling in recent years, including the 2016 election, have consistently UNDERestimated Democratic strength:

For months, Biden’s polling average has consistently been within the margin of error in Texas. And the race continues to tighten. But what is important to understand is since the 2008 election, polling of the Texas electorate has significantly underestimated Democratic performance because, unlike demographically declining states, Texas has a growing, dynamic electorate with many new voters who are younger, more likely to have college degrees and more likely to be people of color — and often difficult to poll. As a result of this rapid demographic change, Texas is not only more racially diverse and urban than most other swing states, but also more rapidly trending Democratic. Unlike the Rust Belt, where the polls underestimated Trump’s strength on Election Day, the polls in Texas underestimated Hillary Clinton’s performance by 4.9 percent. [emphasis added]

So if the polls are still off by that amount, or even little more than half off, that’s more than the margin between Biden and Trump right now. (And while some polls were taken since the debate, we don’t have any yet since Trump got sick.)

There’s other good reasons to mess with Texas:

At a minimum, an investment here would force the GOP to continue to spend massive amounts of cash to defend the state, while also supporting Texas Democrats’ effort to flip several suburban House districts and, crucially, gain control of the state House of Representatives in time for redistricting in 2021. With the state projected to get numerous new congressional districts after the 2020 census, it is imperative Democrats get a say in redistricting. That will set the stage for what is possible for Texas Democrats for the next decade and beyond. If we invest in Texas now, it will reverberate up and down the ballot, securing Democratic victories statewide and in federal elections over the long term.

Plus there’s a senate race, though with Cornyn averaging 10 points over Hegar, I don’t really see us getting that seat.

Texas Republicans are running scared; there’s a front page diary up on Gov. Abbott’s last-minute order to limit drop-off boxes to one a county — and as one comment pointed out, county populations range from 134 to 4.6 million. Lawsuits have already been filed, though I haven’t seen any predictions about them. Still, given that kind of disparity, equity demands that Abbott’s order be reversed.

Campaigning in Texas also gives Biden points with Latinx voters, an area where he’s shown some weakness.

We have a plan to win. One of us, Tory Gavito, runs a data-driven voter empowerment fund that has a track record of expanding the electorate and winning elections. Targeted new investments in the final leg of the campaign, along with strategic appearances, from Biden to connect with Texas voters, especially Latino voters, will show Texans that Democrats are working hard to win their support. That will energize the base that has been showing up in consistently higher numbers each election — the key to Biden beating the polls and Trump in Texas.

O’Rourke and Gavito focus on how it will help Biden in Texas. I think it will help him nationally.

Final point:

Given the high stakes in the presidential election and strategic opportunity in Texas, Biden has no better investment than turning out voters in the Lone Star State. This is not the cycle for Democrats to wonder if Texas is going to flip. This is the election to make it flip — and end the national nightmare on election night.

If all that doesn’t move you, think about this: I’m a Californian — more than that, a San Franciscan — and here I’m rooting for Texas!

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