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

Texas Democrats plan 7-figure ad buy to turn state blue
© The Hill Illustration

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 rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Five things to know about Georgia's Senate runoffs 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 CarterOne-termers: What Trump can learn from Carter and Bush's re-election losses Former CIA head, Cruz trade jabs over killing of Iranian nuclear scientist: 'You are unworthy to represent the good people of Texas' Can Biden vanquish Democrats' old, debilitating ghosts? 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 CornynCornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Cornyn on Biden aides' undisclosed ties: 'The Senate is not obligated to confirm anyone who hides this information' Cornyn says election outcome 'becoming increasingly clear': report 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 ClintonCornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Groups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Biden's political position is tougher than Trump's MORE in Texas by 9 points in the 2016 election, a much smaller margin than the 16-point win Republican Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyVoters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican Congress set for chaotic year-end sprint Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls MORE delivered in the state in 2012. In 2008, Republican John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden eyeing Cindy McCain for UK ambassador position: report The Memo: GOP mulls its future after Trump Juan Williams: Obama's dire warnings about right-wing media MORE defeated Democrat Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMullen: 'National security issues do not wait' for presidential transitions Is Trump headed to another campaign or to a courtroom? With the Chang'e 5 launch, China takes a giant leap forward in the race to the moon 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 HurdHouse Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members Democrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities MORE's seat. 

Nine other GOP-held seats are considered competitive.