I’m as skeptical as you are. Scarcely a year passes anymore without hype for some momentous Democratic upset in a statewide race and it never, ever happens — although Beto got too close for comfort against Ted Cruz last fall. It almost certainly won’t happen next year either. And if it does, Texas won’t matter. Trump losing the Lone Star state would only happen if he’s taking an unholy beating nationwide.
But before you dismiss this poll out of hand, note three things. One: This isn’t the first poll to show Texas competitive, or even the first to show Biden ahead. Emerson had him leading Trump 50/49 there a month ago.
Two: Trump’s job approval in Texas has been chronically lukewarm. In all five Quinnipiac polls of the state dating back to last April, he’s been no better than 47/47 there. Today Quinnipiac has him at 48/49. Morning Consult has him at 49/46. Texas just isn’t Trump country the way the deep south or heartland states like Wyoming are. In fact, although Biden’s the only Democrat who actually leads him head-to-head here, the president’s advantage against a variety of other Democrats tested is within the margin of error.
And three: Although Quinnipiac didn’t ask specifically about the new tariffs on Mexico, this poll was conducted mostly after Trump announced them. (The announcement was made on May 31, the survey was in the field from May 29-June 4.) Texas will likely suffer more economically than any other state if the tariffs take effect, which is why even Cruz is pounding the table about them. The numbers on Biden vs. Trump may be an early warning sign to POTUS not to mess with Texas.
The difference between Biden and every other Democratic candidate: Independents. Among the various other Dems tested against Trump, the best anyone can do is a 13-point lead with indies. (That’s Bernie Sanders.) Biden, though, enjoys a 22-point lead and is the only candidate to win a clear majority of that group (55 percent). Is that due to sheer name recognition or on the merits? We’ll see.
The most interesting numbers from this poll don’t involve Trump, though. They’re from the Democratic primary. Note the “very liberal” column:
Warren is eating up Bernie’s base. Sanders still leads her thanks to “Democratic leaners,” who favor him 28/10 over her, but I wonder if that’s a function of name recognition or due to far-left progressives drifting into the “leaner” category due to their dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party. Also worth noting, though: Among Dems who say they’re paying “a lot” of attention to the primary, Warren leads Sanders 15/10. She’s catching on among the voters Bernie’s targeting. How much is that split going to end up helping Biden to the nomination?
The good news for Trumpers is that, per another poll today, there’s been a notable shift nationally in the share of Americans who think he’ll be reelected. Last March, just 40 percent thought he would be; now 54 percent do. That 54 percent isn’t promising to vote for him, but if they’re more able to see him winning now, with Russiagate in the rearview mirror, some of them are certainly more willing to consider voting for him. A hopeful sign, even if the Texas numbers are bad.