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Democratic polls show Trump struggling in three GOP-held Texas districts

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of the House Ways and Means committee in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Sept. 26, 2017, in Washington. From left, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., Trump, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas.
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of the House Ways and Means committee in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Sept. 26, 2017, in Washington. From left, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., Trump, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas. AP

As President Donald Trump heads to Texas on Wednesday, his approval rating is underwater in a trio of GOP-held congressional districts both parties will be fighting over in 2020, according to new Democratic polling shared with the Star-Telegram.

Surveys the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently conducted found that 41 percent of voters approved of Trump’s job performance in Texas’ 24th congressional district, where Rep. Kenny Marchant serves, while 44 percent disapproved.

In Rep. Mike McCaul’s 10th district, 44 percent approved and 45 percent disapproved of the job Trump is doing. And in Rep. Chip Roy’s 21st district, 45 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved.

Trump carried all three suburban seats by ten points or fewer during the 2016 presidential election.

“The Democrats are not happy with him, but I wouldn’t stay away from a rally. He’s my president,” Marchant said of Trump in an interview with the Star-Telegram Tuesday.

Trump plans to visit San Antonio for a fundraiser and Houston to announce new energy policies on Wednesday. He held a rally in Fort Worth in 2016, but hasn’t yet made plans to campaign for his reelection in north Texas.

“We will see him all over Texas in the coming year,” said Hal Lambert, a Fort Worth money manager and who raised money for Trump’s presidential campaign. “The goal is to win re-election but also to flip the House back, and I think he can help close House races as well.”

Republicans need to flip 19 seats to take back the House. They are targeting the seats held by Democratic Texas Reps. Lizzie Fletcher and Colin Allred.

After flipping two seats in Texas in 2018, Democrats are plotting a much bigger investment to go after six more in 2020. But the targets are much tougher this time around, running through much more conservative territory.

While Hillary Clinton won both of the Texas districts Democrats took control of last year, Trump carried all of the party’s 2020 targets except the 23rd district, represented by Rep. Will Hurd. Democrats are also targeting Texas GOP Reps. John Carter and Pete Olson.

To flip these traditionally GOP seats, Democrats say they are relying on moderate Republicans who have soured on the Trump-led party, as well as minority voters who have become a larger share of the electorate.

The DCCC’s polling, for example, showed Marchant’s district has increased its African American population by 26 percent between 2010 and 2016 among citizens of voting age. The Hispanic population rose by 29 percent, and the Asian population by 42 percent.

DCCC Texas data 16
Data from the American Community Survey on the growing number of minorities of voting age in targeted Texas Congressional districts between 2010 and 2016, provided by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Marchant, a former Carrollton mayor who has represented the district since 2005, acknowledged that his campaign is getting started much earlier this cycle finding and talking to new voters. He expects to post the largest first-quarter fundraising haul of his career in the coming week.

But Marchant doesn’t believe the changing population necessarily helps Democrats.

“My district is just booming, corporate relocations, the economy is booming,” said Marchant, who credited the GOP’s tax bill, passed at the end of 2017.

The Democratic polling showed that Marchant was viewed favorably by 26 percent of voters and unfavorably by 19 percent, while 55 percent didn’t know enough to have an opinion.

For McCaul, 31 percent viewed him favorably compared to 14 percent who viewed him unfavorably. As for Roy, 28 percent viewed him favorably and 19 percent viewed him unfavorably.

The DCCC conducted the surveys using a mix of live and automated calls from April 3-6 (the poll in the 21st district was in the field April 4-6). The 10th district and 21st district polls had a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points, while the 24th district poll had a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points.

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Andrea Drusch is the Washington Correspondent for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She is a Corinth, Texas, native and graduate of the Bob Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University. She returns home frequently to visit family, get her fix of Fuzzy’s Tacos and cheer on the Horned Frogs.
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