The day after I get done calling this state fool’s gold for Democrats, wham — two slaps right upside the head.
Is Texas actually in play? New from the University of Houston:
Trump leads by three points among registered voters (41/38) and by four among likelies — but note that independent column. Clinton has more than twice as many votes as he does, with fully 29 percent of indies undecided right now. Texas may end up as a test of whether there are enough lukewarm Republicans to carry him over the finish line in a state where virtually everyone else is breaking hard towards her. Their favorable ratings are nearly identical, by the way, an amazing fact of political life this year in a Republican stronghold.
Meanwhile, at WaPo:
Note the Georgia result. Texas is actually closer than Ohio is. If all of those results held up, Clinton would be over 300 electoral votes — and bear in mind that this is the only poll taken in the past two weeks to show her trailing in Florida. She leads by nearly four points there in the RCP average. As for Texas, it’s strange yet true that the biggest lead Trump has had there all year is seven points and that was several weeks ago. The three most recent polls of the state have him ahead by four points or less. There’s no reason to doubt that the state is competitive — for the moment.
Why might Clinton want to spend some money on ads there? A smart conservative friend emailed with this reasoning earlier this afternoon:
1. If they know they’re going to win national race, it’s already house money, no downside;
2. If they draw the inside straight and actually win Texas (or other “red” states), then it forces GOP to defend them in the next election. Even if Trump is seen as a “black swan,” RNC won’t/can’t take that chance;
3. If even a single Hispanic-heavy red state goes for HRC this year that guarantees GOP Congress passes amnesty next year.
All good points. And yet, judging from how minuscule Hillary’s advertising budget is in the state, she’s not seriously competing there despite her promising polling:
By mid-day Tuesday, Clinton’s campaign had booked ads in Texas worth at most $100,000, according to a GOP source briefed on local television sales. That figure is small in any state, but the prohibitively expensive media markets in Texas further diminishes the campaign’s bang for its buck…
“It takes millions of dollars to drive a single message across those markets,” said national GOP media consultant Erik Potholm in an email. “If they are running $100k in those cities, it’s just a media hit, not designed to actually move voters.”
The problem with the “Hillary’s trying to take Texas!” narrative is how low her ceiling seems to be in polls of the state. Only once so far this year has she been above 38 percent. She’s averaging a paltry 37.4 percent there right now. In Arizona, by contrast, she’s been at 40 or better in the last five polls and trails Trump by less than a point in the RCP average. For Clinton, Texas is the same predicament as Utah: She’s “competitive” only in the sense that Trump’s own numbers are garbage. Unlike Utah, though, Texas has no strong third-party candidate poised to steal Republican votes away from Trump and pull an upset. If Clinton can’t build on her 38 percent of the vote then obviously she’s not going to win the state — and she seems to know it, judging from how paltry her ad buy is. The $100K they’re spending in Texas seems designed not to compete but to simply generate news headlines that underscore the potential scale of Clinton’s national win. “Hillary’s on the air in Texas! Polls there surprisingly close!” In the end, it’s still going to be fool’s gold for Dems. But not for too much longer, especially if Democratic excitement in the state at how close the polls are now inspires lots of left-leaning younger voters there to register.
In lieu of an exit question, via the Blaze, here’s #NeverTrumper Glenn Beck with a hopeful note for Trump fans. What if the polls are lowballing Trump due to a “Bradley effect” in which some voters lie to pollsters and claim they’re voting for Clinton when in fact they’re secretly voting for Trump? That effect would have to be highly systematic given that the national polls lately are increasingly consistent in showing Hillary comfortably ahead. It would also have to be enormous to affect the outcome of the election given that she’s now leading by seven points on average. But you never know.