Could Hillary Clinton actually win Texas?


Democrats in the Lone Star state have found a way to mess with Texas — or at least, with the understanding of Texas as an unshakably red state.

Hillary Clinton edges closer to her Republican opponent Donald Trump just weeks before the election. The latest poll from Texas shows Clinton trailing just four percentage points behind Trump — within the margin of error.

A WFAA/Texas TEGNA/SurveyUSA poll released on Thursday puts Trump at 47% and Clinton at 43% in a four-way race including the top two third-party candidates. The margin of error is plus or minus 4%.

A RealClearPolitics average of four state polls taken since Sept. 1 give Trump a six-point lead over Clinton.

But throughout modern U.S. history, Texas has been known to hue purple — even if ever-so-slightly. 

In the 2012 presidential election, Republican nominee Mitt Romney did win Texas over President Barack Obama, but it wasn't by a landslide. Romney won with 57.2% over Obama's 41.4%, according to Ballotpedia.

In 1976, Texas voters chose Democrat Jimmy Carter over Republican President Gerald Ford by a slim margin.

The state has 38 electoral college votes, so a shift in Texas could have a seismic effect. And the Clinton campaign is taking note of the latest polls with a week-long ad buy just weeks before the election.

The ad prominently features her Sept. 7 endorsement by the Dallas Morning News. It was the first time the newspaper endorsed a Democrat for president since before World War II. Clinton was also endorsed by the Houston Chronicle back in late July.

Clinton's running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, campaigned in Austin in early August.

"We always look at Texas in the Democratic family. It's big and it's complicated. ... But we're serious about it," Kaine said at the event, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Clinton's appeal in this mostly red state isn't all that difficult to understand. One of Trump's biggest campaign platforms is to build a border wall with Mexico. Texas is made up of nearly 40% Hispanics and Latinos, according to 2015 census data.

Trump has his strongest support in West Texas, while Clinton is ahead in Austin, San Antonio, Central Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, as PoliticsUSA points out.

"Even in the wake of some really terrible news for him, Trump still leads in Texas, which shows what a tough nut Texas is to crack for Democratic candidates right now," Matthew Wilson, associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, told WFAA.

Wilson said the polls in Texas should be particularly troubling for the Trump campaign.

"It pretty consistently shows that Trump is struggling in Texas more than a Republican typically would," he said. "He's still highly likely to win the state in the end but we typically see double digit margins for Republican candidates and Trump seems unlikely to produce that."

FiveThirtyEight gives Trump about an 85% chance of winning Texas.

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