Texas begins to experience national campaign presence as Democrats sense opportunity

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., will be campaigning in Texas Friday as Democratic candidate Joe Biden attempts to increase his influence in the newly crowned swing state. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer

Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris announced she will begin campaigning in Texas on Friday. She is the first vice presidential nominee in over 30 years to do so.

Other than occasional fundraising efforts, presidential campaigns typically do not devote much time to campaigning in Texas due to its historically Republican voting record. The state has given all 38 of its electoral votes to Republican candidates in every election since 1976.

Recent polling, however, suggests Texas may be much closer than in recent years. The Real Clear Politics average slots President Donald Trump up by only 2.6 points, well within the margin of error. This statistic could change the political playing field in the Lone Star state and consequently, the electoral results of the entire nation.

Following these reports, Biden’s campaign, which has invested over $6 million in ads in Texas, has pledged to invest more time and money in the state, and will likely continue to do so until Election Day.

Part of this effort is led by Harris, who will make stops in Fort Worth, Houston and McAllen— some of the state’s larger cities with districts who have potential to vote in favor of the Democratic candidate.

Jill Biden has already made appearances in El Paso, Dallas and Houston in recent weeks.

At the El Paso rally, she said “for the first time in a long time, winning Texas is possible.”

News broke Tuesday that NBC News officially moved Texas into the “toss-up” voting category, although not every Texan would agree with that appraisal.

Former Texas governor Rick Perry said on Sunday that Texas is “not a battleground state” and will remain a “very red state.”

Trump’s campaign, which has spent only $34,000 on ads in Texas, reflects Perry’s confidence.

Most of Trump’s campaigning will take place in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, with an additional appearance by First Lady Melania in Pennsylvania. Vice President Mike Pence will focus on Minnesota and North Carolina.

“The president doesn’t need to be in Texas,” Perry said. “He’s going to carry Texas I think rather handily, as will John Cornyn.”

On the other hand, U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Houston said that the Democratic Party sees Texas as the “biggest battleground state, period.”

“I think the momentum is with us,” Garcia said.

Baylor students also disagree on the status of Texas as a potential swing state.

Mansfield junior Cole Cannon, a Republican voter, said he thinks Texas will stay red in this election.

“I’m not worried about Biden’s campaign efforts in Texas,” Cannon said. “Biden has almost zero voter enthusiasm anywhere in Texas outside of the major cities. Texas is a red state, and I can’t see that changing in 2020.”

Cannon said he believes Trump is correct to spend time in the country’s usual battleground states.

“President Trump needs to focus on winning over major swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan if he wants to win a comfortable electoral college majority,” Cannon said.

In contrast, Melissa senior Claire Dillashaw, a Democratic voter, said she thinks Biden should “invest more in Texas” because “all bets are off” in this election.

“Texas has historically been red, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for Biden’s campaign,” Dillashaw said. “I think Trump assumes that Texas will stay red, and he does not want to put in the energy to campaign here because he thinks Texans will vote for him either way.”

Dillashaw said she is “hoping and praying that Texas will flip blue this election.”

“I think there is a good possibility of this happening because so many young people are voting like never before,” Dillashaw said.