It’s one of the most enticing targets on the electoral map for Democrats, and has been for years.
The Lone Star State.
“We see an opening in Texas,” Molly Ritner, deputy state director for former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, told Politico.
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With 38 votes on the Electoral College, it’s the nation’s second-biggest presidential prize, but the state’s been a deep shade of red for decades.
Texas hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter in 1976, hasn’t had a Democratic governor since Ann Richards left office in 1995, and hasn’t had a Democratic senator in 27 years.
In fact, no Democrat has won any statewide race in at least 25 years, and Republican President Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton easily in 2016 by nearly 10 points.
As a result, the Trump campaign is practically daring Biden to try.
“Democrats like to pretend Texas is on the table,” Trump campaign deputy press secretary Samantha Zager told NPR, “But they know that’s a joke — just ask Governor Wendy Davis, Senator Beto O’Rourke, and President Hillary Clinton.”
But the last eight polls have shown something unexpected: Trump leads in four of them … Biden in the other four. The combined results of all the recent polls have given Trump a razor-thin edge of just 0.3. percent overall, according to The FiveThirtyEight website.
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And that has Democrats dreaming big.
“To me, this is not only an opportunity for the Biden campaign, it’s a chance to go on the offensive,” Rep. Colin Allred, D-Tex., told Politico. “They hear me and they’re receptive to it.”
But there’s a catch.
Texas is not only a big state in terms of population, but also in size – and multiple large media markets with little to no overlap including Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, El Paso and Austin.
That makes it an incredibly expensive state to campaign in.
Here’s how costly Texas is for Democrats: Beto O’Rourke spent $80 million in his bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz during the 2018 midterm elections.
Cruz raised half of that.
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Yet despite having double the money, despite having all the conditions favorable to electing a Democrat during the “blue wave” year, O’Rourke still lost by more than 200,000 votes.
This year could be even more expensive.
Texas Monthly estimates that Democrats will have to spend at least $50 million this year just to protect the two U.S. House seats they flipped in the 2018 midterm election and target a handful of other potential pickups.
Yet Biden might be taking the bait.
The Texas Tribune reports that his campaign just ran its first ad in Texas, specifically Dallas and Houston, as part of a multi-state ad buy.
The Trump campaign is unimpressed, writing it off as a ploy for media coverage.
“ … we do encourage Biden to spend money in states like Texas, which President Trump will most assuredly win, because it’s money he won’t have to defend states like Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Nevada,” Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh told Politico.
And that’s where things could go terribly wrong for Biden.
In 2016, Clinton invested both cash and visits – from herself and prominent campaign surrogates – to campaign in red states as she tried for a blowout victory.
Her campaign spent $2 million in Arizona, which only went blue once since 1952, and $1 million in Missouri and Indiana. She also dabbled in Texas, Georgia and more.
And she infamously didn’t use those resources to solidify the “Blue Wall” states of Wisconsin, Michigan Pennsylvania.
Trump saw the opening and seized it, campaigning in and winning all three states – which combined to make up his margin of victory in 2016.
With Biden eyeing Texas as well as Georgia, Arizona and more, history could repeat itself.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert, and is the author of “America’s Final Warning.”