July 28, 2020 11:28 pm
Categories: JoshWho News Washington Examiner

President Trump arrives in Texas on Wednesday for his 16th visit as fresh polls warn he faces a battle to hold on to the state in November.

Campaign officials insist they are not treating the Lone Star State as a battleground. Yet, former Vice President Joe Biden leads 47%-45% in a Morning Consult poll published on Monday, following a string of surveys showing the two candidates level pegging or Trump lagging behind.

“The president loves coming to Texas to raise money and rile up the base,” said Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin, Texas-based Republican strategist who managed the 2014 campaign of Sen. John Cornyn.

“He won Texas by 9 percentage points in 2016, but he is facing a closer and tougher race in 2020. I think his multiple visits to Texas indicate that he is taking Texas seriously and is investing time here so that he doesn’t lose the state this time around.”

Texas has not voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since 1976. However, Republican Party workers in the state admit that changing demographics are eroding their longstanding advantage and more needs to be done to appeal to minority voters and suburban women.

But even their gloomiest forecasts had suggested that the state would remain red until at least 2024.

Donors put some of their hopes in a drive to register 100,000 new Republicans and a super PAC dedicated to turning up unregistered members of Trump’s “silent majority.” The super PAC, Engage Texas, raised more than $12 million but closed in May after the pandemic made person-to-person contacts impossible.

Trump is due to meet supporters in Odessa for a fundraising lunch on Wednesday before traveling to Midland, where former President George W. Bush was raised. There, he will tour an oil rig and deliver remarks on how his agenda of cutting regulation and encouraging private investment is responsible for a boom in American energy production.

His most recent visit was barely a month ago, raising hopes among Democrats that Republicans are increasingly concerned about holding on to the state.

Texas has been badly hit by the coronavirus, and a Quinnipiac poll published last week suggests the issue has hurt Trump. Voters disapproved of the president’s response, by a margin of 45% in favor to 52% against, and said they believed Biden would have done a better job, by 48 points to 45, giving him a lift over his 38% favorability rating.

The poll came soon after Biden launched his first television adverts in the state, with 60-second spots offering public health guidance and a message of comfort.

In a conference call with reporters on Friday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien delivered a confident message and taunted Biden’s team.

“I would invite the Biden campaign to play in Texas,” he said. “They should play hard, they should go after Texas really, really heavily — spend a lot of money in the Houston and Dallas media markets. I would invite them to do that. I’ll even buy their first ad.”

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