In April, President Trump tweeted, “THANK YOU Texas, I love you!” The Donald’s latest declaration of love was during his ninth visit to the Lone Star State since becoming president less than two and a half years ago. But is it true love, or more like an insecure, possessive boyfriend?
Trump won Texas by nine points over Hillary Clinton in 2016 after all, though neither campaign really contested the state. But Mitt Romney had won it by 16 points just four years earlier. And in last year’s midterm Senator Ted Cruz, who fully embraced Trump — figuratively and politically — survived a surprisingly tough challenge from Beto O’Rourke by less than three percentage points. 16 to 9 to 2.6 — not a great trajectory for the Texas GOP headed into 2020.
Recent polling has showed Trump’s job approval in Texas under water, and tied or even losing the state to potential Democratic opponents. Nothing to worry about for Team Trump, right?
A little noticed Wall Street Journal story a few weeks ago reported that Texas was among the first batch of nine states where the Trump campaign has hired a state director for 2020, joining perennial midwest battlegrounds and the ultimate swing state, Florida. An early campaign hire in a state that’s in the bag?
Add to that data from Bully Pulpit Interactive’s 2020 Campaign Tracker showing the Trump campaign has spent more on digital advertising in Texas than any other state over the last few months, much of it railing against immigration, Robert Mueller, and “fake news.”
Beneath the standard Republican swagger and conventional wisdom that Texas remains a Republican state for the near future, relevant data and Trump campaign activity suggest much less confidence about the 2020 election. As the old saying goes, watch what they do, not what they say.
Come on, Texas Democrats and progressives. It’s time to believe.