TEXAS 38 Electoral Votes 
link to clickable map

Organization: Biden  |  Trump  ||  Visits  ||  Advertising.
Examples of activity by the campaigns, parties and allied groups: D, allies | R, allies. 

Despite Democratic Investment, Republicans Sweep Texas

There was debate among Democrats about how much of an effort to make in Texas.  In 2016 the Clinton campaign designated Texas as an "expansion state."  Although Clinton lost by 807,179 votes (8.99 percentage points), Trump's share of the vote and margin was smaller than Romney's in 2012 or McCain's in 2008.  In 2018, then Rep. Beto O'Rourke's challenge of Sen. Ted Cruz (R) generated a lot of energy and enthusiasm.  O'Rourke fell short, but not by much (+), and Democrats achieved gains in congressional, legislative and local races. 

Two Texans sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.  Former HUD Secretary and San Antonio Mayor formed an exploratory committee on Dec. 12, 2018 and announced his candidacy on Jan. 12, 2019; he ended his campaign on Jan. 2, 2020 before the first contest.  O'Rourke, from El Paso, announced his candidacy on Mar. 14, 2019 amid tremendous buzz, but withdrew on Nov. 1. 

In June 2020 Joe Biden told the Texas Democratic Convention that Texas is "an important battleground state for our campaign (+)."  In addition to the presidential race, there were seven open U.S. House seats, a competitive U.S. Senate race, and a battle for control of the state legislature, critical for redistricting following the 2020 Census.  However, Mark McKinnon, the political advisor and TV producer who has decades of experience in the Lone Star State, had cautionary words for Democrats. "Texas is a very conservative state," he stated in Vanity Fair.  "Donít get distracted by the big, shiny object of Texas. Donít waste valuable time and resources there. Itís big. Itís expensive. Itís a place where Democratsí dreams have been dashed for decades."  Indeed the last Democrat elected to statewide office was Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock in 1994.

Much attention focused on the Latino vote.  A Sept. 28 blog post on the website of the polling firm Latino Decisions noted, "Since the 2018 midterms, 387,930 Latinos turned 18 years of age."  The author posited that, "First-time Latino voters alone could...help propel Biden to victory."  However, a posting from October highlighted a key difference in the situation of Latino voters in the blue state of California versus the red state of Texas.  "Unlike Californios, Tejanos face a number of barriers that limit their access to the ballot box. In this presidential election, California mail-in ballots are automatically sent to voters. In Texas, you must be over 65 years of age or provide a reason for voting by mail beyond concerns over COVID."

In early August the Biden campaign announced its first Texas staff, in September it added more staff, and by October, as Trump's fortunes continued to falter, the campaign made a $6.2 million investment in advertising.  In addition, Doug Emhoff, Jill Biden and Kamala Harris made visits to Texas in October.  The only Trump campaign visit in the last two months was a fundraiser by Ivanka Trump.

As in other states, Trump supporters expressed their enthusiasm with parades on land and water.  There were a couple of incidents which made news.  On Sept. 5 several boats sank during the Lake Travis Trump Boat Parade, providing fodder for many news stories and memes.  On Oct. 30 Trump supporters driving flag-flying vehicles followed and surrounded a Biden-Harris bus on tour.  At one point in Hays Co. on I-35 there was a minor accident, and Democrats said they were canceling several events.

As McKinnon had suggested, Democrats were disappointed in just about every area.  Several months  after the election the Texas Democratic Party put out an analysis examining how "Texas Democrats failed to reach our goals (>)."  The analysis concludes that, "The lack of in-person voter registration and campaigning significantly hampered our chances to flip the state ó Texas Democrats and Texas Democratic campaigns were unable to successfully connect with critical portions of our base: particularly young voters and voters of color."  Further, the analysis states, "For the most part, Latino voters continue to support Texas Democrats; however, Republicans did a better job turning out their Latino base better than we did. In particular, we need to find better methods of connecting with Latino voters in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley."  Other analyses suggest that the Democrats' problem was not the methods of connecting, but that Trump's message resonated with rural and Tejano voters.

Biden still won the four RGV counties and most counties in Southwest Texas.  Looking at electoral maps, the blue area is thinner, as counties in the Southeast flipped to Trump, and is a much lighter shade of blue.  Right in the middle of the blue is a patch of pale red; Zapata Co. went for the Republican presidential ticket for the first time since 1920.  In the Southeast Trump peeled off five counties (Kenedy, Kleberg, Jim Wells, La Salle and Frio).  Additionally Trump flipped Reeves and Val Verde Cos. for a total of eight counties.  Biden flipped two counties: Tarrant (Fort Worth) and Williamson (adjacent to Austin). 

A Big Shift in the Rio Grande Valley
[RGV Partnership]
The Rio Grande Valley, which is actually a delta, is the southernmost tip of Texas, comprising four counties along the U.S.-Mexico border with a total population of over one million.  Cities include Brownsville, Harlington, McAllen, Edinburg and Rio Grande City.  RGV is in the southern part of three congressional districts, the 28th (Henry Cuellar-D), 15th (Vicente Gonzalez-D) and 34th (Filomen Vela Jr.-D).  RGV was a touchstone area for Trump's immigration policies.  A Mar. 2, 2020 press release from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, announcing construction of 15 miles of border wall in the area, stated, "RGV is the busiest Sector in the nation and, for the FY to date, accounts for approximately 25% of the illegal alien apprehensions and ranks first in seized cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana along the southwest border (+)."  Trump made one of his few trips of the post-election period to Alamo, Texas (Hidalgo Co.) on Jan. 12, 2021 to view and tout border wall construction.

2016





2020




County
Clinton
Trump
Others
Total
Margin

Biden
Trump
Others
Total
Margin
Starr

9,289
(79.12)
2,224
(18.94)
227
(1.93)
11,740
7,065
(60.18)


9,123
(52.06)
8,247
(47.06)
155
(0.88)
17,525
876
(5.00)

Hidalgo

118,809
(68.50)
48,642
(28.05)
5,986
(4.17)
173,437
70,167
(40.46)


128,199
(58.04)
90,527
(40.98)
2,158
(0.98)
220,884
37,672
(17.06)
Willacy

3,422
(67.16)
1,547
(30.36)
126
(2.47)
5,095
1,875
(36.80)


3,108
(56.01)
2,441
(43.99)
Ė
5,549
667
(12.02)

Cameron
59,402
(64.51)
29,472
(32.01)
3,205
(3.48)
92,079
29,930
(32.50)


64,063
(56.11)
49,032
(42.94)
1,079
(0.95)
114,174
15,031
(13.16)

Statewide

3,877,868
(43.24)
4,685,047
(52.23)
406,311
(4.53)
8,969,226
807,179
(8.99)


5,259,126
(46.48)
5,890,347
(52.06)
165,583
(1.46)
11,315,056
631,221
(5.58)



See also:


Jeremy Wallace. "Trump shattered Texas fundraising total for a presidential election."  Houston Chronicle, Feb. 4, 2021.


Jake Herrera.  "Trump Didn't Win the Latino Vote in Texas.  He Won the Tejano Vote."  Politico Magazine, Nov. 17, 2020.

James Dobbins and Manny Fernandez.  "In Texas, an Emerging Problem for Democrats on the Border."  New York Times, Nov. 7, 2020.

Dylan Scott.  "Why Democratic hopes were dashed in Texas."  Vox, Nov. 4, 2020.

Alex Samuels, Patrick Svitek, Anna Novak and Mandi Cai.  "Biden's struggles along the Texas border raise questions about Democrats' outreach there."  The Texas Tribune, Nov. 4, 2020. 

Kate McGee, Jeremy Schwartz and Abby Livingston.  "Biden camp cancels multiple Texas events after a "Trump Train" surrounded a campaign bus."  The Texas Tribune, Oct. 31, 2020.

Adrian Pantoja.  "Hispanics Will Turn Texas Blue If Given a Chance."  Latino Decisions, Oct. 14, 2020.

Alex Samuels and Patrick Svitek.  "Biden campaign to spend $6 million on Texas campaign ads, more than any Democratic presidential nominee in decades."  The Texas Tribune, Oct. 6, 2020.

Ė.  "Texas-Sized Opportunities (An Update)."  Latino Decisions, Sept. 28, 2020.

Christopher Hooks.  "If Texas is a Battleground, Biden and Trump Aren't Acting Like It."  Texas Monthly, Aug. 31, 2020.

Joseph Ax.  "As Trump falters, Democrats and Biden eye an elusive prize: Texas."  Reuters, Aug. 10, 2020.

Mark McKinnon. "Democrats' Blu
e Texas Fever Dream May Finally Come True." Vanity Fair, June 10, 2020.