Fri, 25 Jun 2021

Less than a week before Election Day, Joe Biden is tantalizingly close to a prize that has eluded generations of Democratic presidential candidates: Texas.

Public opinion polls show Biden and Republican President Donald Trump effectively tied in the Lone Star State. They also suggest the former vice president is leading among those helping to set its staggering early vote totals.

As of Tuesday, nearly 8 million Texans had cast ballots, approaching 90% of the entire 2016 vote - a higher percentage than any state in the country, according to the US Elections Project at the University of Florida.

Trump appears to have the edge with voters planning to cast ballots on 3 November, according to polls, which also show him improving his standing among Hispanics in Texas, a huge constituency, mirroring modest gains he has made with that demographic nationally since 2016.

Texans do not register by party, which makes it difficult to say with certainty who is leading in early voting.

A Biden win in Texas, which hasn't voted for a Democratic nominee for president since 1976, would end any chance of Trump's re-election.

The Democrat's campaign has been cautious not to lose its focus on the battleground states, however. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton was criticised for miscalculating by spending time in Republican states late in the campaign only to lose seemingly solid Democratic states to Trump.

"We've been really focused on our top six states," said Jenn Ridder, the campaign's national states director, referring to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. "But in these last 10 days, if we can do a little bit to put (other states) over the edge, we're going to take that opportunity."

Biden's running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris, will visit Texas on Friday, and billionaire Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $15 million in Texas and Ohio in a last-minute bid to flip both Republican-leaning states.

The campaign's reluctance to go all-in has frustrated some Texas Democrats, including Julian Castro and Beto O'Rourke, who both ran for their party's 2020 presidential nomination.

"They've invested close to zero dollars in the state of Texas, and they're doing this well," O'Rourke told reporters last week. "Imagine if they invested some real dollars."

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Source: News24

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