WHAT IS BREWING IN TEXAS?
United States President Donald Trump appears to be losing his grip on a state that has historically been a Republican stronghold for over four decades.
A series of eight polls conducted among registered and likely voters indicate that Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic party rival in the upcoming US presidential elections, is surging ahead in the deep south state of Texas, according to a CNN report.
President Trump had won Texas comfortably in 2016 by a nine-point lead over Hilary Clinton. However, three polls conducted among Texas voters have either given Biden the lead or have shown the two neck-and-neck, in itself a cause for alarm for the Republicans.
It did not come as a surprise that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the US in September 2019, chose Texas as the venue of a mega diaspora event featuring Donald Trump and a slew of Republican party leaders.
At the event, titled Howdy Modi, which was held at a football stadium in Houston, PM Modi had even endorsed Trump’s re-election campaign at the event.
According to an analysis piece by the Observer Research Foundation which mentions a study by Pew Research Centre in 2014, Indian Americans – about 65 percent according to a 2014 Pew study – have traditionally been Democrats or leaned toward the Democrats.
“However, with the rise of nationalist fervour in India and America, the Indian American base in the US is faced with a realignment of sorts,” the piece states.
Apart from an escalating COVID-19 crisis that President Trump has struggled to mitigate, he has other reasons to worry as successive polls by various organisations show him falling behind overall nationally to his Democratic party rival.
FiveThirtyEight, a US-based news website that presents data journalism through data visualisation, shows Biden at 50.1 and Trump trailing at 41.2 according to its general election polling average.
WHY IS TEXAS IMPORTANT FOR TRUMP?
No Democratic presidential candidate has won Texas since the 1976 US presidential elections. Former President Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat who took the state, defeating his Republican rival Gerald Ford.
Not even Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, both of whom served two terms as Democratic party Presidents managed to win Texas despite their overall popularity.
Texas has presented three US Presidents, all Republicans – Lyndon B Johnson, George HW Bush and George W Bush.
Moreover, Texas being a heavyweight state contributes 38 electoral college votes in the presidential polls out of a total of 538 votes. An absolute majority of at least 270 electoral votes is required to win the election.
Texas is the second most important state electorally, behind California, which has 55 electoral college votes. The candidate with the most votes in a state takes all the electoral votes of that state. In this sense, Texas is analogous to a Maharashtra in India’s Lok Sabha elections.
Trump, who had garnered 52.2 percent of the votes in Texas in 2016 took all the 38 electoral college votes of the state. Therefore, winning Texas is often key to gaining entry into the White House.
Experts analysing the run-up to the November elections have begun to describe Texas as a swing state.
WHAT ARE SWING STATES?
In the tradition of US Presidential Elections, a swing state, according to the Cambridge English dictionary, is one where the number of Democratic and Republican voters is about the same, that has an important influence on the result of the election of the United States President.
Historically, close elections have often been decided by a handful of swing states. Some states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia have historically been swing states while those like Texas have traditionally been red states due to the Republican stronghold.
A swing from red to blue of the democratic party will be a major boost to Biden’s chances. According to a CBS News poll, Florida and Arizona, two other swing states have also indicated gains for Biden.
While the former Vice President leads 48 to 42 in Florida, he is tied with Trump at 46 percent in Arizona.
Analyst Harry Enten, writing for CNN, explains why Biden is doing well in Lone Star state. “The reason the Democrats are doing so well in Texas,” writes Enten, “is a shift among college educated white voters.”
“You see this best in the suburbs of Austin, Dallas and Houston, where O'Rourke did disproportionately better than the Democratic Senate did six years prior.”
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