Texas might provide the biggest surprise of the 2016 presidential contest. Voters in the Lone Star State; might ensure Hillary Clinton’s capture of the White House.
That’s right Texas; the home of George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, might vote Democratic this fall. The state where Mitt Romney beat Barrack Obama by 16 points in 2012 is turning into a battle ground. Clinton herself is intrigued by the possibility.
“If black and Latino voters come out and vote, we could win Texas,” Hillary told New York Magazine’s Rebecca Traister in late May. Traister reported that Hillary was practically licking her lips when she talked about the Lone Star State, and it is easy to see why.
Texas has 38 electoral votes it is the largest Red; solid-Republican, state and the only GOP bastion with a double-digit number of electors. Winning Texas would give Hillary 235 of the 270 electoral votes needed to reach the Oval Office.
Texas’s Numbers Look Bad for Trump
The idea of a Clinton victory in Texas is not as far-fetched as you might think. Donald Trump’s numbers in the state are terrible.
The Donald only received 26.7% of the vote in the Texas Republican Primary. The clear winner was US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who received 43.8% of the votes cast. That means 73.3% of Texas Republicans voted against Trump, which indicates serious weakness.
I could only locate two polls of a Trump vs. Clinton match up in Texas, the oldest was the Texas Lyceum poll dated September 21, 2015. It had Trump winning by a thin margin of just two pints. Lyceum gave Trump 39% to Clinton’s 37%. The numbers show Trump’s support is weak among Texas Republicans.
The second was a June 22, 2016, Leland Beatty poll found Trump was leading Clinton by 7 points in Texas, but he only had 36.8% of the vote, The Hill reported. Clinton had 29.7% of the vote, meaning that 34.5% of Texans; more than one third of the state’s voters, wanted another choice.
Why Texas is bad for Trump
Support for Trump is weak in Texas; and it is easy to see why, Texas is now a majority minority state. Around 55.6% of Texans are “nonwhite” according to the US Census Bureau, to make matters worse 38.2% of Texans are Hispanic.
This makes Trump’s “white-nationalist” strategy very hard to execute in Texas. To win, he might have to get up to 60% of Texas’s white population to vote for him. That will be difficult because 65% of white women and 49% of white men are against Trump according to a CBS News Survey, uncovered by Politico.
Another problem for Trump is that Texas’s economy is very healthy. Donald does best in rust-belt states with lots of angry, unemployed working class white men. Last year CNN Money even asked if “Texas was America’s best state economy.” The economic conditions driving the Trump Revolution in other states; simply don’t exist in Texas.
To make matters worse for Donald; Texas has lots of conservatives including Christians and libertarians, who are skeptical of him. This might mean little enthusiasm or organization. To make matters worse some of them want to get even with Trump for his attacks on their favorite son: Ted Cruz.
There are also many Texans that have strong economic reasons to oppose Trump. This includes close connections to Mexico; and export driven businesses such as oil and gas and agriculture.
The Libertarian Wild Card
Trump’s best hope for taking Texas will be to appeal to Republicans on specific issues such as gun control or abortion. He hopes to get NRA types and evangelicals to hold their noses as they vote for him. Even that might not work because of a wild card in the race; Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Gary Johnson.
A June 14, 2016 Bloomberg Poll found that Johnson was polling at 9% nationwide; more than needed to throw the race one way or the other. A Fox News Poll gave him 12% of the national vote. Johnson; is on the ballot in Texas according to the Libertarian Party website. The Leland Beatty poll found that Johnson currently received 2.6% of the Texas vote, but most respondents were unaware of him.
Johnson is the former Republican governor of New Mexico which is next door to the state. The Libertarian Party; which is staunchly in favor of gun rights, should play very well in West Texas and other rural areas. A few good TV and radio ads; particularly Spanish language ads, might give the Libertarians 15% to 20% of the vote in some parts of Texas. That might put Hillary in a position to capture the state’s 38 electoral votes.
Libertarians Might Raise Big Money
Such ads are likely because the Libertarian vice presidential candidate is former Massachusetts governor William Weld. The Boston Globe reported that Weld; who was a fundraiser for Mitt Romney, has organized the Socially Liberal and Fiscal Conservative PAC (Political Action Committee).
That’s a Super PAC designed to raise money for the Johnson campaign. It’ll be headed by Weld’s associate; R.J. Lyman, and run out of Weld’s Boston lobbying firm, ML Strategies, The Globe reported.
The purpose of the group is to air television adds to support the Libertarians. Since Donald Trump has taken radical stands that would harm many corporations; such as the 45% tariff on Chinese products, it is not hard to imagine Weld’s PAC raking in some serious dough to spend in places like Texas.
A probable donor is Amazon’s Jeff Bezos; a libertarian who has donated to some right-wing causes such as charter schools and opposition to the income tax. Bezos is worth around $45 billion, according to Forbes. Amazon makes a lot of money from Chinese made products.
Things could get even worse for Trump if Johnson manages to worm his way onto the debates; and get national media exposure. The candidate would need to poll at 15% to do that and some surveys indicate he is close. That would let large numbers of Texas voters see there’s a candidate besides Trump; who is pro-gun and anti-tax.
Since one third of the state’s voters are undecided there is a real opening for Johnson in Texas. The situation might get more interesting if media reports that Trump’s campaign is broke and unable to afford serious TV advertising are true. That could leave lots of advertising slots open for Johnson’s campaign to buy up.
How Cruz could Still Destroy Trump
The ultimate Texas nightmare for Trump would be for Ted Cruz to come out and endorse Johnson. That might occur since Donald; and his friends at The National Enquirer, accused Cruz’s father of helping Lee Harvey Oswald assassinate John F. Kennedy. Cruz has good reason to get Trump; and there’s an easy way to hurt him in Texas, would be to endorse Johnson.
Texas has become inhospitable territory for Trump, and it might cost him the election. If Hillary were to win the Lone Star State it would be a real paradigm shift; because no Democrat has carried Texas since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Not even Bill Clinton could win in the state.
Since Hillary could achieve something even her husband could not, expect her to spend a lot of time and money in Texas. It could ensure her victory, and Donald Trump’s defeat.