Trump’s narrow lead in Texas makes state a toss-up

Donald Trump, left, and Hillary Clinton (Nexstar Photo)
Donald Trump, left, and Hillary Clinton (Nexstar Photo)

AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — Election Day is just two weeks away and most national polls show Hillary Clinton is in the lead but Donald Trump claims he is winning and that the polls are rigged against him.

“There is no evidence, at this point, that somehow the polls are being manipulated against Donald Trump, it’s a conspiracy fantasy,” said Jim Henson, Director of the Texas Politics Project.

In Texas, the latest statewide survey shows Trump is ahead of his Democratic rival, but he’s not up by much.

The YouGov/CBS News 2016 Battleground Tracker Poll shows Trump has a narrow, three-point lead with 46 percent of support to Clinton’s 43 percent.

Henson said that’s one of the smallest leads a Republican presidential nominee has seen in Texas in at least 20 years. Texas is a Republican stronghold but the GOP seems to be loosening its grip on the traditionally red state.

Real Clear Politics, which collects and averages polls in every state, deemed Texas a toss up state in the 2016 presidential election this week.

Trump said the “phony media” put out “phony polls” that are heavily weighted in favor of the Democrats.

“What they do is they try to suppress the vote, this way people don’t go out and vote but we are winning this race, I really believe we are winning,” Trump said while out on the campaign trial in Florida Monday.

Henson said, “I think that the Trump attack on polling is pretty transparent, he’s had a pattern throughout the campaign of embracing polling when he’s ahead, attacking it when he’s behind.”

In the final stretch, Clinton stirred up some buzz in Texas with campaign ads airing on local channels in the state’s biggest cities.

“Texas is extraordinarily expensive, it’s generally $1.5-1.8 million a week,” said GOP strategist, Matt Mackowiak. He estimates that’s what it would cost to saturate local television stations across the state with campaign commercials.

As the San Antonio Express News reported Monday, the Clinton campaign spent around $46,000 to run one week of ads in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin.

In presidential terms, the Clinton campaign’s local ad buy is a drop in the bucket, but the symbolism is perhaps more significant than the amount spent. “It was actually pretty shrewd,” Henson said, even though most of the state won’t see the ads, the act of buying local ad space sends a message to Republicans.

“That the Clinton campaign is doing so well that they’ll actually put resources into a state where national Democrats have not been competitive,” said Henson.

He believes the commercials are also an attempt to to help Democrats on the ballot for state and local offices.

Henson expects Trump will win Texas but as for the future of the GOP in Texas, Henson said, “What Donald Trump threatens to have done for Republicans is erode what’s been a very comfortable cushion.”

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