The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan outlet dedicated to analyzing and predicting elections, on Wednesday shifted Texas from “lean Republican” to a “toss-up” in its Electoral College forecast.
The move comes after a number of polls have shown a tightening race in the Lone Star state, which has been reliably red for decades.
The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter said that while Texas isn’t a state Biden needs to win, “it is clear that it’s more competitive than ever.”
“Texas’ shift from Lean Republican to Toss Up shouldn’t come as a surprise,” she wrote. “Recent polling in the state — both public and private – shows a 2-4 point race. That’s pretty much in line with the hotly contested 2018 Senate race in the state where Sen. Ted Cruz narrowly defeated Rep. Beto O’Rourke 51 percent to 48 percent.”
President Trump won Texas, which is the second largest state in terms of geography and population and holds 38 electoral votes, by nine points in 2016. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win in Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976.
“A huge surge in early vote (as of October 26th, almost half of Texas’ registered voters had already cast a ballot) suggests that we could see record turnout in a state that has added many new residents since 2016,” Walter added. “That also adds a level of uncertainty to the equation.”
More than 7.8 million Texans have already voted, according to the US Elections Project, roughly 87 percent of the state’s total 2016 turnout.
To win the election, President Trump must win every state the Cook Political Report currently has labeled as a toss-up: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Iowa, Ohio, Texas and Maine’s 2nd CD, Walter wrote. Even so, Trump would still be short 22 electoral votes, and would thus need to win at least two of the seven states the report has labeled as “lean Democrat”: Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and New Hampshire.