Real Clear Politics map with Capitol Inside forecast of Biden beating Trump 352-186 in electoral votes


Texas Up for Grabs Despite Thin Trump Odds Edge
with Democrats Poised to Flip 15 State House Seats

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
September 14, 2020

Texas Competitive Races in General Election

Texas Congress Races to Watch Fall Forecast

The Capitol Inside crystal ball sees Texas shaping up to be a classic coin flip at the top of the ticket in November despite a consensus among the nation's most prominent prognosticators that President Donald Trump will hold the Lone Star State for the GOP en route to a loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the Electoral College.

But Texas remains a toss up in the forecast in the first American presidential election in a pandemic in history as a state where Biden is within the margin of error of Trump's lead here of less than 2 points on average in a half-dozen independent polls that have been conducted in the past two months. Trump had a 3 point advantage on the former vice president in Texas in eight independent surveys that were taken during the five months before the coronavirus surfaced here in March.

The fact that Trump hasn't been hurt more in Texas and other swing states by his actions and words during the war of the world against the virus appears to be an indication that the lion's share of Republicans in the U.S. plan to vote their party regardless of qualifications or the body count in a country where more than 194,000 have died from COVID-19 infections in the past six months.

The down-ballot damage for the GOP in Texas probably won't be as devastating as it appeared to have the potential to be during the spring and summer. The CI forecast for the critical Texas House battlefield has been scaled back to a net gain of 14 seats for the Democrats with the flipping of six congressional districts here as icing. The crystal ball two weeks ago had 20 more House districts going blue in the November 3 general election.

While U.S. Senator John Cornyn has a better chance to prevail in his home state than Trump, the second race on the 2020 ballot is still rated as a toss up with the incumbent as a razor-thin betting favorite.

But Trump and Cornyn wins in Texas shouldn't keep the Democrats out of the victory circle in their quest to take back the Legislature's lower chamber by wrestling at least nine seats from the GOP in the election seven weeks from now.

The only potential saving grace for the Texas Republicans in the state House and congressional competition is a new law that prohibits straight-ticket voting here for the first time this fall. The GOP-controlled Legislature approved the straight party vote ban in 2017 with an effective date for this year. Texas Democrats tried and failed this year to have the prohibition thrown out by the courts.

Texas down-ballot preferences will be irrelevant in the White House fight that Biden is currently favored to win without the need for the 38 electoral votes here. Veteran handicappers Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato both have Texas in the leans Republican category with Biden up now in the Electoral College with 279 and 269 votes respectively and four states as 50-50. The eventual winner will win at least 270 electoral votes.

The CBS News Battleground Tracker also has Biden with 279 electors with 95 up for grab in six swing states. CBS News has Texas leaning red despite the fact that it had Biden and Trump both with 49 percent late Monday night.

The ABC News analytic site FiveThirtyEight is picking the winners and losers in all 50 states with Biden as the projected victor with 334 electoral votes. FiveThirtyEight boost Trump's odds in Texas on Monday to 51.3 percent after listing them at 51.2 percent during the weekend.

A University of Virginia political scientist, Sabato has Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Wisconsin as toss ups. Cook - one of the nation's paramount odds makers who publishes the Cook Political Report - agrees that Arizona, North Carolina and Florida are too close to call at this point while listing Georgia as a toss up with Wisconsin in the Democrats' category.

Real Clear Politics has Biden with 352 electoral votes on its no toss up map that has Texas staying red. Florida, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona and Iowa all are coin flips in the CBS News projections. But Biden leads between 2 to 4 points in all of those except Ohio where Trump is up by one in the CBS New Battleground Tracker.

But FiveThirtyEight is predicting Biden victories in Florida, Arizona and North Carolina with Trump taking Texas, Georgia, Ohio and Iowa. The swing state outliers where Biden is ahead on most projected maps include Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada and Minnesota.

The most unpredictable election in history, however, could come down to Wisconsin where Trump would have to win to keep his current job even if he chalks up wins in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina and Nevada.

Texas COVID-19
Cases Per 100,000 in Texas
Major Counties September 14
1 Nueces 5,420
2 Cameron 5,195
3 Webb 4,575
4 Potter 3.671
5 Hidalgo 3,383
6 Galveston 3,297
7 Lubbock 3,107
8 Dallas 2,979
9 Tom Green 2,893
10 Brazoria 2,818
11 McLennan 2,780
12 Jefferson 2,765
13 Brazos 2,725
14 Ector 2,680
15 El Paso 2,576
16 Bexar 2,492
17 Harris 2,465
18 Hays 2,432
19 Travis 2,174
20 Ellis 2,163
21 Kaufman 2,141
22 Tarrant 2,114
23 Comal 2,050
24 Taylor 1,963
25 Midland 1,946
26 Fort Bend 1,900
27 Randall 1,762
28 Smith 1,750
29 Gregg 1,623
30 Montgomery 1,612
31 Johnson 1,515
32 Williamson 1,412
33 Bell 1,405
34 Rockwall 1,382
35 Denton 1,241
36 Parker 1,219
37 Guadalupe 1,163
38 Collin 1,160
39 Grayson 1,158
40 Wichita 1,133

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