The battle for 2020: Possible Democratic presidential candidates
Republican President Donald Trump could end up in a dead heat with Democrats Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders or Beto O’Rourke in Texas, according to an early poll looking at potential matchups in the 2020 election.
While Trump has a small lead over other potential Democratic challengers, right now — if the election was held today — he would be in a statistical tie with Biden, 47-46 percent; Sanders, 47-45 percent; and O’Rourke, 47-46 percent, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll of Texas voters released early Thursday.
“The 2020 presidential race in Texas, and how some of Democrats stack up against President Donald Trump, begins as a two-tiered contest,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “There are three more well-known contenders who run evenly against President Donald Trump. Another group, less well-known, are just a little behind Trump.”
The poll shows that Trump could have bigger leads in Texas over former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, 46-41 percent; U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, 48-41 percent; and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 48-41 percent.
“Former Vice President Joe Biden has the highest favorability of any of the contenders and has a better net favorability than President Trump,” Brown noted. “Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke also does relatively well on favorability and in a matchup with Trump, but that may well be due to O’Rourke being a home-state favorite.
“But former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, who is also a former San Antonio mayor, does not do as well as O’Rourke.”
The new poll comes one day after O’Rourke, the former El Paso congressman who lost to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz last year, announced he would not run for the Senate next year.
These results come shortly after a separate Quinnipiac University Poll shows that Texas voters believe they are divided about how Trump is doing in the White House, with 50 percent disapproving and 47 percent approving.
The poll looked at how the president would fare in Texas against some of the best known Democrats.
Former Vice President Biden said recently that he’s “very close” to deciding whether or not to join other Democrats running for their party’s presidential nomination. And he indicated family members are encouraging him to join the race.
In this matchup, Trump draws 90 percent of the Republican vote and Biden draws 96 percent of the Democrat vote and 46 percent support from independents, the poll shows.
Sanders, who lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries, joined the race this year. He bills himself a “democratic socialist” and is a senator from Vermont. Less than a week after he declared his candidacy, his campaign raised $10 million.
Trump would draw 96 percent of the Republican vote and Sanders would pull 93 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of independents, according to the poll.
And O’Rourke told TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey that he would make a decision before the end of this month about whether he would run for president. He did indicate that he was “leaning toward” jumping into the race as well. Last year, Cruz won re-election by a much smaller margin than many expected, with just over 200,000 more votes than O’Rourke.
“Amy and I have made a decision about how we can best serve our country,” O’Rourke said Wednesday. “We are excited to share it with everyone soon.”
In this head-to-head, Trump would pull 91 percent of the Republican vote and O’Rourke would pick up 95 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of independents, the poll shows.
The Republican Party of Texas sent out an email Thursday, asking supporters to donate in the wake of this poll.
“This is scary news just ahead of the 2020 election, so we must show them that Texas is not up for grabs,” Marissa Vredeveld, the party’s finance director, wrote in the note. “We must show them that Republicans are engaged and ready for all they can throw at us.”
Texas Democrats cheered on the poll results.
“It’s clear Texas is the biggest battleground state and the focal point of the Democratic offensive strategy,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, who heads the state Democratic Party. “We are gearing up to win the White House, take out John Cornyn, send more Texas Democrats to Congress, flip the Texas House, and elect hundreds of local Democrats across the state. This is the fight of our lifetimes.”
U.S. Senate race
The poll also shows that Cornyn, who has served in the U.S. Senate since 2002, could tie O’Rourke 46-46 percent in his re-election bid.
The poll was taken before O’Rourke announced he would not run for the Senate in 2020.
Cornyn last week called on fellow Republicans to help “STOP BETO” by giving to his own re-election campaign.
He sent out a letter to supporters saying that “all signs point to another well-funded, high stakes challenge from Beto in 2020. We need to be ready for anything.”
Cornyn told reporters in Fort Worth that O’Rourke’s Senate bid against Cruz was “closer than many people would have thought.”
“He captured people’s imaginations and came very close to winning,” Cornyn said. “It only makes sense ... that candidates running in 2020 learn from that.”
The poll, which reached out to 1,222 Texas voters between Feb. 20-25, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Interviews were conducted on cellphones and landlines.