Trump in a dead heat with Biden, Sanders, other Democrats in Texas, new poll shows

Democrats’ presidential chances

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth on the Democrats’ presidential chances in Texas next year after speaking to students, along with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Fort Worth.
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U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth on the Democrats’ presidential chances in Texas next year after speaking to students, along with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Fort Worth.

If the 2020 election were held today, President Donald Trump would be in a dead heat in Texas — where voters have chosen Republicans in all presidential races since 1980 — with several Democratic presidential hopefuls, a new poll shows.

Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a four percentage point lead over the president, 48-44.

Trump holds a slim lead over other Democrats: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 46-45%; Sen. Bernie Sanders, 47-44%; and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, 48-45%, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll of Texas voters released Wednesday.

He also leads Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 46-44%; Sen. Kamala Harris, 47-43%; and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, 46-43%.

“The president, who is on the wrong side of a too-close-to-call matchup with Biden, barely inches up in similar matchups with all the other Democrats,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Democratic presidential candidates have been eying the historically red state of Texas, not only as a place to raise funds to propel their campaigns forward — but also as a key state for electoral votes.

Republicans have long stressed the need to keep their electoral hold on this state.

Jimmy Carter in 1976 was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win Texas.

“There is no path for us to hold the White House in 2020 without a Republican victory in Texas,” Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey told supporters earlier this year. “If we can’t defend Texas, we won’t see another Republican in the White House for at least a generation.”

Since O’Rourke made the race for the U.S. Senate so close for Republican Ted Cruz last year, even claiming victory in the conservative stronghold of Tarrant County, political observers have wondered if Texas could be in play next year.

A number of Democratic presidential hopefuls have headed to Tarrant County this year to campaign, believing this community is a bellwether that shows any political shift that might happen in Texas. The percentage of Tarrant voters backing Republicans in presidential elections mirrored statewide results in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

O’Rourke, Sanders, Harris, John Hickenlooper and Castro are among the candidates who have campaigned here.

“Poll after poll shows the same result: Texas is the biggest battleground state and the focal point of the Democratic offensive strategy,” Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Manny Garcia said in a statement. “This is our moment.”

Texas has long been considered a crown jewel for Super Tuesday next year, when voters in 10 states head to the primary polls on March 3. More than 200 delegates are up for grabs here.

Texas opinions

In other poll results, Texans are split, 48-49%, on whether Trump is doing a good job in the White House .

But 56% of Texas voters say they are better off money-wise today than they were in 2016, when Trump was elected.

And 60% of Texas voters say Congress should not try to impeach Trump, the poll shows.

At the same time, 60% of Texans who say they are Democrats or leaning toward the Democratic Party say O’Rourke should give up his bid for the White House and instead challenge Republican incumbent John Cornyn for his seat in the U.S. Senate.

Cornyn has a 44-33% job approval rating among Texans, the poll shows. Fellow Sen. Cruz has a 50-42% approval rating.

The poll, which reached out to 1,159 Texas voters between May 29-June 4, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Interviews were conducted on cellphones and landlines.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.