“I wouldn’t be shocked": Why Joe Biden has an actual shot at winning deep-red Texas

“It’s clear where the preferences of Texans and the demographics in general are headed there"

Published September 14, 2020 1:01PM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Joe Biden | Texas (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Joe Biden | Texas (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

why Biden actually has a shot at winning Texas

Some states are very easy to predict in 2020's presidential election, but Texas isn't one of them. While California, New York, Massachusetts and Oregon are almost certain to go to former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump is almost certain to carry deep red states like Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, Texas is proving to be quite nuanced — with Trump slightly ahead in some polls and Biden slightly ahead in others. Texas is still a red state, but like Georgia, it's light red rather than deep red — and pundit Galen Druke, in a video for pollster Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website, lays out some reasons why the Lone Star State is in play for Biden.

Although Texas can be very Democratic at the local level — major urban centers like Houston, Austin, Dallas and El Paso lean Democrat — the Democratic Party struggles in statewide races in Texas. Druke, in the FiveThirtyEight video, notes that a Democrat hasn't won Texas in a presidential race since Jimmy Carter in 1976. But he goes on to explain that Texas "could be turning blue" because of its "demographics."

"It's a majority minority state," Druke explains. "So, the state is about 41% white, 40% Hispanic, 13% black and 5% Asian. You would think, looking at those numbers, that the state is already Democrat. But here's the deal: the electorate in Texas is majority white — about 55% of the electorate, in fact."

There are some nuances in the demographic figures that Druke cites. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the "41% white" is non-Hispanic whites, and the "40% Hispanic" includes some white Latinos — for example, Sen. Ted Cruz. His father was from Cuba, and the 49-year-old senator was born Rafael Edward Cruz on December 22, 1970. Texas has its share of white Latinos, but at this point, non-Hispanic, non-Latino whites comprise only about 41% of Texas' population.

A big problem for Democrats in Texas, as Druke points out, is the fact that many of the state's Latinos don't vote.

According to Druke, "The Texas electorate is majority white in large part because Latinos only make up about a quarter of voters even though they're about 40% of the population . . . Turnout among Latinos, in general, is lower in Texas. Then, among those who do turn out, about a third reliably vote for Republicans. So, Texas is a very diverse state."

Druke goes on to cite some figures that illustrate the progress Democrats have been making slowly in Texas. The FiveThirtyEight pundit notes that in 2012's presidential race, Republican Mitt Romney won Texas by 16% — whereas Trump won Texas by only 9% in 2016. And when Cruz was reelected in the 2018 midterms, Druke adds, he defeated Democrat Beto O'Rourke by only 2%.

"College-educated white voters," according to Druke, are making Texas more Democrat-friendly — and only 30% of that demographic voted for Trump in Texas in 2016. Then, in 2018, Cruz won only 10% of college-educated whites.

Bearing those things in mind, Druke stresses, Texas is definitely in play for Biden — and he notes that according to FiveThirtyEight's analysis, he has roughly a 31% chance of winning Texas.

"I wouldn't be shocked, on Election Day — or in the days after Election Day after all the votes are counted — if Biden ends up winning (Texas)," Druke says. "It's clear where the preferences of Texans and the demographics in general are headed there."

By Alex Henderson

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