As early voting began Tuesday in Texas, a Latino author, activist, radio host, and political analyst on the Fox 26 Houston Thursday show “What’s Your Point” couldn’t find a single Donald Trump sign outside his polling station.
Democrats see a potential Electoral College pick-up in the Lone Star state this year thanks to Latino voters and women who have turned against the reality show star-turned-Republican presidential nominee.
If what Tony Diaz saw Tuesday is any indication, the Clinton campaign may be right to think they can pull off an upset this year in deeply-red Texas. As unprecedented early-voting turnout smashed records in all ten of the largest counties, Diaz noticed a conspicuous absence of Trump-Pence signage.
This is not a conspiracy. Nobody stole the Trump-Pence signs to make Donald’s campaign look bad. On the contrary: the Trump campaign has given up on modern techniques altogether and its field operation is virtually nonexistent.
Plans to build get-out-the-vote (GOTV) infrastructure for Texas languished into September, never really getting past the planning stage to scale up for early voting. Jim Murphy, the person who was supposed to oversee this kind of GOTV work, “stepped back” from the campaign last week, and no one has taken his place.
Which is not to say that nobody in Texas is organizing for Trump. It’s just that their organizing is not effective or systematic. A trump supporter who wants yard signs or bumper stickers will find it hard to get a response. Trump-Pence signs may appear outside that polling station at some point — indeed, they may be in place by the time you read this — but the fact that they weren’t already there on the first day of early voting shows how far the Trump campaign lags behind team Clinton in terms of ‘ground game.’
According to political scientists, GOTV campaigning can provide up to a 3.5% boost in voter turnout for a candidate, making it possible to overcome small gaps in public opinion and win close races. Hillary Clinton will probably need a little more than that to win Texas, but she’s off to a great start, and her opponent has done himself no favors.
This is not not just happening in Texas, either, but every place that has early voting, especially states with large Hispanic populations. Florida has seen a historic spike in early Latino voting; so has Nevada. Texas’s three largest border counties reporting an 83% jump in early voting on Tuesday, and second-day totals smashing turnout records across the state. Women are also turning to Clinton in droves across the south, including Texas.
In other words, this anti-Trump wave might just be high enough to give Clinton a victory.
The state of the race in Texas became clear in early September, when polls showed Clinton in a better position than any Democratic nominee has been in the state since 1976. An uncharacteristic endorsement of Clinton from the arch-conservative Dallas Morning News drew further attention to Trump’s slipping popularity in Texas. Then Clinton opened a state campaign headquarters, bringing in staff and training volunteers.
By the end of September, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott was sounding an alarm in fundraising emails, warning donors that Clinton might indeed carry the Lone Star State against all odds. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign was doing its very best to fail at the basic business of electing a president in the modern era.
Now it’s almost like they’re not even trying, anymore.
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