Less than a month before Election Day, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a narrow 47-43 percentage point lead over Democratic counterpart Hillary Clinton in the usually reliably red state of Texas, a new WFAA Texas TEGNA poll shows.
Despite the latest controversy swirling around Trump regarding the 2005 video showing him talking about groping women and accusations by women who say he made unwanted sexual advances toward them, the GOP candidate maintains a narrow lead among both men and women statewide, and a larger lead among white voters in Texas.
While his lead statewide is 4 points, Trump’s lead in North Texas is double that, at 8 points. Clinton, who leads in Central and South Texas, has more support here than Trump does among African-American and Hispanic voters.
“The good news for Republicans in Texas is that he still has a lead,” said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. “The bad news is they depend … on a 10 to 12 point Republican win to elect people down ballot. This could have an impact in down ballot legislative races.
“The question has never been whether Trump is going to win Texas, but by how much.”
The latest poll shows Trump with 47 percent, Clinton with 43 percent, Libertarian Gary Johnson with 3 percent of the vote and Green Party candidate Jill Stein with 1 percent.
The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points overall. Statistically speaking, that means the Trump-Clinton race could be considered a virtual tie.
Republican presidential candidates traditionally win Texas by big margins. In fact, no Republican has won Texas by less than 13 points since Bob Dole bested Bill Clinton by five points two decades ago, the same year Texan Ross Perot claimed seven percent of the state’s overall vote, the poll shows.
“On the face of it, this looks a little like what we are seeing in other parts of the country,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas in Austin, who stressed he hasn’t seen the breakdowns of the poll. “Places where we expect an unambiguous Republican lead are more narrow.
“But this has been a very bad week for Donald Trump.”
It’s not the first poll to show that the presidential race is tightening in Texas.
Most recently, a KVTV CBS 11 poll earlier this month found Trump with a 43-36.7 percentage point lead over Clinton. And in a Texas Lyceum poll before that, Trump had a 39-32 lead among likely voters.
The female vote
The poll comes on the heels of the second presidential debate, which wrapped up Sunday night, and amid the fallout from a 2005 video released last week showing Trump talking about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman.
Trump posted a video on social media apologizing for the remarks and, despite calls from GOP leaders to drop out of the race, has firmly remained in the race for the White House.
Earlier this week, a handful of women alleged that Trump made unwanted sexual advances toward them or touched them inappropriately during the past few decades.
Although Trump maintains a narrow lead among women, it’s notable that different groups of women respond differently to him. Trump leads among rural women by 41 points in the state, for example, while Clinton holds a 1-point lead among suburban women.
“In other parts of the country, he’s just being clobbered by women,” said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas in Arlington.
The reason that isn’t happening in Texas is clear, Riddlesperger said.
“Their partisan affiliation trumps their gender,” he said.
As is the case in other polls in other states, many voters in the new Texas survey said they aren’t voting for a candidate as much as they are voting against one.
In Texas, 61 percent of Trump supporters say they are voting “for” him, while 39 percent are voting “against” Clinton. As for Clinton supporters, 68 percent say they are voting “for” the Democrat and 30 percent say they are voting “against” Trump, the poll shows.
While Trump holds a lead of 33 points among white Texans, Clinton leads by 64 points among African Americans and 23 points among Latinos, according to the poll.
The current racial divide should be a concern for Texas Republicans down the road, TCU’s Riddlesperger said.
“For this year’s election, it makes no difference. But down the road, when you look at patterns of growth in Texas’ population, the Hispanic population is growing fairly rapidly.
“If the Republican party in Texas is going to be successful, they need to look at this.”
Other poll results show:
▪ Trump holds a 35 point lead with evangelical voters, a 10 point lead in military households and a 10 point lead among high-school-educated voters. He leads among affluent voters and those over 50.
▪ Clinton has a narrow advantage among lower-income and middle-income Texans. She leads among voters under the age of 50.
The WFAA Texas TEGNA poll was conducted bilingually between Oct. 10-12, as SurveyUSA contacted 800 adults — 734 who were registered to vote — on home telephones or through smartphones.