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Texas May Not Turn Blue, But Democrats' Chances Are Better In 2020

Martin do Nascimento/KUT
Joe Biden

From Texas Standard:

Around this point in the election cycle, a question often pops up in political circles: Could this be the year Texas turns blue?

Texas has been solidly red for a long time, in fact the Lone Star State hasn't favored a Democrat for president since 1976, when Texas helped send Jimmy Carter to Washington. Though Democrats held major offices in Texas much longer, there hasn't been a Democrat elected statewide since the mid-1990s. But the extraordinary events of 2020, and recent polls, have political insiders asking again whether there's a chance for Democrats this year.

Mark McKinnon has worked for Texas politicians, including Lloyd Doggett, Ann Richards, Bob Bullock and George W. Bush. He is currently a creator, executive producer and cohost of Showtime's "The Circus," and he recently wrote about renewed excitement over Texas Democratic prospects for Vanity Fair. He told Texas Standard host David Brown on Thursday that Democrats have done a good job of energizing their base of supporters during the past few years.

"Will Texas turn blue? I don't think it's probable, but it's possible," McKinnon said.

And he said President Donald Trump isn't helping his Republican Party in Texas.

"Donald Trump is clearly clawing his way to the bottom right now," he said, "which creates the potential for a huge, historic, wave election, which means Texas could be part of it."

McKinnon advises Democrats not to divert their attention from traditional battleground states to Texas.

"You want 270 electoral votes. If you're winning Texas, that means you're winning a lot of states you shouldn't be winning," McKinnon said. "And you're probably winning in the neighborhood of 400 electoral votes."

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, benefits from being a less "scary" alternative than more progressive candidates like Bernie Sanders, McKinnon said. Moderates who switched to the Republican Party in past years may feel safe with Biden, especially when compared to Trump.

COVID-19 is likely to help Biden's case, too, because Trump's response to the pandemic is seen by many as ineffective.

"People right now don't feel healthy at all," McKinnon said. "They're worried about COVID. It's not getting better, it's getting worse."

McKinnon said Republican candidates for the Senate around the country are even beginning to break with Trump on the coronavirus issue.

Web story by Shelly Brisbin.

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