Texas has burst into the national headlines over the last few days for something absolutely, totally unprecedented — high voter turnout. More Texans voted early this year than voted in the entire 2016 election — that is more than the 2016 early, mail-in and election day vote combined. As readers have probably seen, this transformed Texas into a swing state in the 2020 presidential election. Move over Florida and Pennsylvania.
The Democratic ticket took notice and scrambled Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ schedule, sending her to Fort Worth, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley late last week. What the Biden campaign senses is the potential for a knock out blow in Texas. Trump simply cannot win a second term without winning Texas. And, I simply cannot avoid pointing out that back on March 1, in the Independent’s first issue, I wrote:
“Imagine if Texas went blue: the networks would likely call the race right then. . . If and when it did happen, people all over the nation, all over the world, would burst into the streets to celebrate. The focus would then shift to whether Donald Trump will accept the verdict of American voters and peacefully vacate the White House come January 20, 2021.”
Among other points, that article concentrated on a scenario in which: “The eventual Democratic nominee wins every state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, and loses every state she lost — except, the Democrats are able to flip just one state. If that state was Texas, then Democrats would win the presidency with exactly the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.”
Like I said then, this is a long shot, but even national pundits and election forecasters now rate Texas a swing state. The scenario of Texas being the only state that switches is also still possible, but a more likely, if still long shot, scenario where Texas could play a huge role, is as follows. Joe Biden wins some states that Hillary Clinton lost, but Pennsylvania and Florida are too close to call. Pennsylvania, unlike Texas, allowed increased mail-in voting, but is not experienced at counting that level of mail-in ballots. So that could contribute to their counting, and announcement of an outcome, stretching beyond election day. Florida, well it’s always close there, and, as we know the counting has drawn out before.
In Texas though, urban counties (including Travis County) often count the early and mail-in ballots first. This varies by county, however. Since early voting is from an entire county, it gives a reasonably representative reading of the whole county. Often a candidate does better, or worse, on election day than in the early vote, but the variance is seldom more than a few percentage points; almost never a double digit swing and usually pretty low in the single digits. The bottom line is that this raises the possibility that the outcome in Texas could potentially be known before Pennsylvania and Florida.
And, if that outcome is that Democrats win, then the election is over. Now, that might just be a dream, but it is not totally out of the realm of possibility. There are of course numerous other possibilities. Vote counting in Texas could drag on into the early hours of the morning or even the days and weeks ahead. Or, it could turn out like always, and Republicans win on election night. Even if that does happen, Texas Democrats will have given it a really, really serious try this time.
Republicans though are clearly worried. That’s why Governor Greg Abbott limited every county in Texas, regardless of size, to one drop off location for mail-in ballots. And, that’s why a group of Republicans filed a lawsuit trying to throw out 127,000 plus votes in Harris County that were delivered to drop off locations set up by Harris County and approved by the Republican Texas Secretary of State. Even the all Republican Texas Supreme Court wouldn’t go for that one. Then today a federal court judge, a George W. Bush appointed judge, ruled that the plaintiffs did not have standing — thus upholding the Texas Supreme Court ruling that the votes be counted.
So it’s on to Tuesday. Whatever, the eventual outcome of the presidential election in Texas, the Biden campaign deserves credit for not totally ignoring Texas and for actually running ads here.
Want to read The Austin Independent’s original story, Can Texas Turn America Blue