Texas might be the surprising new battleground state in 2020, and new polling suggests that who it swings toward will depend on who the Democratic nominee is.

Data from the University of Texas at Tyler’s Center for Opinion Research (COR) shows that while not all members of the Democratic field have the power to flip the state, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) very well could. Sanders joins former Vice President Joe Biden and Texas’ own former Congressman Beto O’Rourke as leaders in the Democratic field that beat Trump in head-to-head polling.

Other frontrunners like Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, California Senator Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren fail to flip the state in COR’s poll.

Sanders and Biden win by the same margin in the poll (both at 4%), but in a Trump-Sanders match-up there are fewer undecided voters than in a Trump-Biden match-up. This means that Sanders actually pulls a bigger share of Texan votes than Biden does. And those undecided numbers are significant across the board — never lower than the 20% in the Trump-Sanders hypothetical. That could dramatically shift the outcome of any of the polls COR conducted.

Demographics are key in Texas. Not only is the Hispanic population on the rise, but so are populations in the major cities. Both groups — latinx people and city dwellers — are major constituencies of the Democratic party. The Texas Tribune’s “Heat Index” shows on a district-by-district level how this changing demography plays out in elections.

But demographics aren’t the only headwind Democrats have in the push to turn the state purple. The near-success of O’Rourke in his bid to unseat Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) could be considered a manifestation of anti-Trump sentiment among Texans.

While O’Rourke and Biden still lead Sanders in primary polling in Texas, COR’s data shows that in a general election Sanders outperforms Biden and nearly ties home-state candidate O’Rourke. Also, while O’Rourke and Biden both lost favorability following the debates in Detroit last month, Sanders gained ground in the lone star state.

This could be an indication that the tides of Texas are turning, both in the general election and the primary, ahead of 2020.

(Featured image: Wikimedia Commons)


Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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