Which is why many people were stunned last month when a Washington Post
poll put Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a dead heat in Texas
– "a significant change from past elections in the traditionally Republican stronghold," as pollsters put it. Sure, it was the only major poll that called Texas a tossup state, but it wasn't the only one showing the state would be way
closer this presidential election than in previous years. Weeks later, the Texas Lycum poll showed Clinton trailing Trump by just 7 points. Another poll last week, this one from KTVT-CBS 11/Dixie Strategies
, echoed the finding. Consider that the Republican nominees won Texas by 16 points in 2012 and 12 points 2008.
Thursday, another poll hinted at Texas leaning purple this election. This one, from WFAA/SurveyUSA
, found Trump beating Clinton by just four points, 47 percent to 43 percent, which is within the poll's margin of error.
The poll, taken Monday through Wednesday, followed the latest – and perhaps most cringe-worthy – scandal to hit the Trump campaign, this one involving a recording of Trump's self-described "locker room banter," in which he brags about forcing himself on women, saying that because he's a star, he can just "grab them by the pussy." The episode triggered a cascade of denouncements
from top Republicans in the state. Local GOP money-bundlers reluctantly hosted Trump for an already-scheduled San Antonio fundraiser just days after GOP nominee's comments went viral. Inside the closed-door event, Trump reportedly fumed
that top Republicans, like his own party's house speaker, were being mean to him and accused them of "disloyalty to the party."
There was another reminder Thursday that this is not a normal election year. According to new numbers released by the Secretary of State's office, a record-breaking 15 million Texans registered to vote in the November election by Tuesday's registration deadline.
That sky-high voter registration number (in a state that was dead last in voter turnout last election) comes after the courts ordered Texas to loosen its voter ID restrictions after years of legal wrangling with civil rights groups. It also comes after elections officials in some of the state's most Hispanic-heavy areas
said the presidential race seemed to be driving a surge in people wanting to vote this year. Bexar County, which tallied over 1 million registered voters, saw the largest increase in the state.
Texas is such a deep shade of red that its voters haven't elected a Democrat to statewide office in two decades. Rather than a place to cultivate a huge voting base, the state is mostly a piggy bank for candidates (primaries, however, are a whole other matter).