Oct 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Poll: Hispanic vote key as Trump leads Biden in close Texas race

Biden in Texas

Biden in Houston in March. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Getty Images

President Trump leads Joe Biden 47% to 43% in Texas with just over a week until Election Day, according to the latest New York Times/Siena College poll.

Why it matters: Demographic changes and a wave of enthusiasm have some convinced that Texas could back a Democrat for president for the first time since 1976. But Biden's lagging support among Hispanic voters in the NYT/Siena poll could prove fatal to his chances of winning the state's 38 electoral votes.

The state of play: Among Hispanic Americans, Biden leads Trump 57% to 34% — a lower figure than most estimates of Hillary Clinton's support among Hispanic voters in Texas in 2016, according to the Times.

  • Latinos will be key to winning the state, something Democrats and activists have said for months despite a lack of effective outreach to the community.
  • Biden has already set aside $6.2 million in Texas to target Latinos and young voters, but Texas Democrats are begging the campaign to spend at least $10 million in the Lone Star State, as Axios reported Sunday. The former vice president has not acquiesced.
  • The Times’ poll shows that support for Trump has increased among Hispanic voters since 2016, even with Trump’s inflammatory language about Mexicans and undocumented immigrants.
  • The Trump camp has insisted that Texas is not a battleground state.

The bottom line: Though the Biden campaign previously dismissed poll results by calling English-language polls unreliable, the new figures could pressure Biden to rethink elements of his campaign strategy as Election Day looms. It’s no longer a given — and maybe never was — that Biden can rely on overwhelming Latino support.

Meanwhile, Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, will visit Texas on Friday. She will be the Biden campaign’s most high-profile representative to personally travel to the state.

What to watch: Latinos aren't the only minority group courted by Democrats this election. Asian Americans are also set to play a role in flipping Texas blue, according to experts.

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