Politics

Texas is now rated a 'toss-up' in the race between President Trump and Joe Biden

Key Points
  • Texas now looks to be a neck-and-neck race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
  • The Cook Political Report moved Texas from "Lean Republican" to its "Toss Up" column.
  • NBC News' own battleground map labeled Texas a toss-up state a day earlier.
A campaign sign for Biden Harris is displayed outside an early voting polling location for the 2020 Presidential elections in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.
Callaghan O'Hare | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Texas, a GOP stronghold for more than four decades, now looks to be a neck-and-neck race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden with just six days to go before Election Day.

The Cook Political Report, a widely followed and respected election-tracking operation that periodically issues ratings in presidential and congressional races, moved Texas on Wednesday from "Lean Republican" to its "Toss Up" column.

NBC News' own battleground map labeled Texas a toss-up state a day earlier.

"Texas is a state that Biden doesn't need to win, but it is clear that it's more competitive than ever," Cook's Amy Walter wrote.

The Lone Star State has voted for the Republican nominee in every presidential race since 1976. It boasts 38 electoral votes, the second-largest share in the nation, behind California.

Democrats have long had their eye on Texas. Former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, for instance, raised jaw-dropping sums of money in his 2018 Senate race against incumbent GOP Sen. Ted Cruz. While that effort ultimately failed, Democrats did manage to flip one House district in the 2018 midterms, and the party is looking to pick up more seats in 2020.

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Early voting numbers in the state should encourage Democrats: More than 7.8 million people have already voted in the Lone Star State, about 87% of its total turnout in 2016, according to the U.S. Elections Project. More ballots have been cast in Texas than in any other state so far, the data shows.

That's due in part to a huge boost in voter registrations since 2016, which Democratic operatives believe plays in their favor.

Anti-Trump sentiment in the blue and purple pockets of the state could be driving turnout among key demographics — such as Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and Americans with bachelor's degrees or higher — that could be more likely to break for Biden.

RealClearPolitics' average of polls in the state shows Trump maintaining a narrow 2.4-point lead over Biden. That gap has shrunk a few percentage points in recent days.

Nationally, Biden currently holds a 7.1-point lead in the polls over Trump, according to RCP's average.

Right on cue, the Biden campaign announced that the candidate's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, is scheduled to campaign in Texas on Friday.