Texas Democrats plan 7-figure ad buy to turn state blue

Texas Democrats plan 7-figure ad buy to turn state blue
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Texas Democrats say they will roll out a seven-figure digital ad buy closer to Election Day as part of a reinvigorated effort to win a huge electoral prize for Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump campaign emails supporters encouraging mask-wearing: 'We have nothing to lose' Cuba spells trouble for Bass's VP hopes Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks MORE, partly by turning out minority voters in the state who are seen as the key to a Democratic victory.

The new push signals that Democrats think they have a real shot of turning Texas blue in the presidential election for the first time since Democrat Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterBiden up 4 points in North Carolina, 1 point in Georgia: poll Ex-presidents honor Lewis's contributions to nation at funeral Jimmy Carter honors John Lewis: His contributions 'will continue to be an inspiration for generations to come' MORE defeated President Gerald Ford in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.

In addition to the ad buy, which will materialize closer to November, the party is also doubling down on its commitment to get 2 million Texans registered to vote for November. This plays into the party’s already established strategy of winning back the state House this cycle.

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“Our basic theory is that the more voters that we register, the more likely the state is to turn blue,” Abhi Rahman, director of strategic communications for the Texas Democratic Party, told The Hill in an earlier interview. “We feel like for every Republican voter that’s unregistered, there’s three or four Democrats that are unregistered.”

Recent polls have shown Biden ahead of Trump in the traditionally red state, suggesting Democrats might have a chance of taking its 38 electoral votes. 

Besides the state House, Democrats have been focused on turning U.S. House seats blue. Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThis week: Negotiators hunt for coronavirus deal as August break looms Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal Chamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelection MORE (R-Texas) is also up for reelection this year, though unseating the senator is more of an uphill climb.

“Texas Democrats are poised to win up and down the ballot this year. As campaigning has changed with the coronavirus, so have our efforts and investment of resources," Texas Democratic Party Deputy Executive Director Cliff Walker told The Hill in a statement. "We are building an adaptive model and taking an innovative path to victory that will turn Texas blue in November."

He said the party will also create a new rapid response team “to counter any disinformation coming from the Republican camp."

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The Texas Democratic Party has pushed to allow all Texans to vote by mail, something that could help increase turnout given the coronavirus pandemic.

The Supreme Court ruled in June, however, that it would not require the state to allow all Texans to be able to vote by mail. As of now, Texans can only vote by mail if they are over the age of 65 or have an excuse — such as being out of state — or a disability.

Trump defeated Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump vows challenge to Nevada bill expanding mail-in voting Biden should pick the best person for the job — not the best woman Juan Williams: The Trump Show grows tired MORE in Texas by 9 points in the 2016 election, a much smaller margin than the 16-point win Republican Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility CNN chyron says 'nah' to Trump claim about Russia MORE delivered in the state in 2012. In 2008, Republican John McCainJohn Sidney McCainChuck Todd's 'MTP Daily' moves time slots, Nicolle Wallace expands to two hours Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Asian American voters could make a difference in 2020 MORE defeated Democrat Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Tuesday's primaries Obama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements Red flags fly high, but Trump ignores them MORE, who easily won the presidency, by 12 points.

In 2018, Democrats won a dozen state House seats back from Republicans, a result that galvanized the party.

The coronavirus pandemic has been a major factor explaining Trump’s plummeting poll numbers, and Texas has been one of the hardest hit states by the resurgence of the virus in recent weeks. On July 15, the state broke its record for the number of new cases with 10,791. On Wednesday, it broke its single-day death toll record with 197 new fatalities.

A Quinnipiac poll this week showed that Trump has a negative approval rating in the Lone Star State, with only 45 percent of respondents saying that they approved of the job he was doing. In the poll, Biden and Trump were virtually tied, 45 percent to 44 percent.

"With crises swirling through American society and a country deeply divided, there's no other way to slice it — it's a tossup in Texas," Tim Malloy, an analyst for the poll, said in a statement about the poll results.

A June Fox News poll produced the same result, with Biden leading the president 45 percent to 44 percent.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report officially categorizes Texas as “lean Republican” in terms of the presidential election. Underscoring Trump's problems and the rapidly changing map, it last week changed Florida — a perennial battleground that Trump narrowly won in 2016 — from “toss-up” to “lean Democrat.”

Though Cornyn’s race is seen as “likely Republican,” Democrats are favored to win retiring GOP Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdDemocrats go big on diversity with new House recruits Texas Democrats plan 7-figure ad buy to turn state blue Republicans face worsening outlook in battle for House MORE's seat. 

Nine other GOP-held seats are considered competitive.