AUSTIN (KXAN) — Recent statewide polling shows President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden neck-and-neck in Texas. But some Democrats have questioned whether the national party has bought into the idea that Texas is the biggest battleground state.
The Republican National Committee has sent three times more money to Texas than the Democratic National Committee—$2.4 million to $795,899—according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Beto O’Rourke, the former presidential candidate and most popular Democrat in the state, has repeatedly urged the Biden campaign to take Texas seriously. A poll released on Tuesday by UMass Lowell found Trump ahead of Biden 49-46 in Texas, within the margin of error.
“At the statewide level right now, Joe Biden has bigger fish to fry,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, referencing efforts by the Biden campaign to win in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. “Texas is a state that they can pick up votes in and can help down-ballot Democrats, but it’s not a priority for them, and it probably shouldn’t be given where things are.”
A win in Texas would all but seal Biden’s ticket back to the White House, political experts say, with its 38 electoral votes. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 9 points in 2016. But executing an effective statewide campaign in Texas would cost the Biden campaign between $1-2 million each week.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Texas being a battleground state, but you’re not seeing the level of investment that would be required by the Democratic party, the Democratic National Committee, by the Biden campaign to show that they are really trying to win Texas,” said Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County Republican Party.
Both national parties have focused their efforts on Texas congressional races, which are more cost-effective. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee have each committed more than $6 million on Texas races.
“On these congressional races, there are several congressional districts where there are going to be close races,” said Bob Salera, deputy communications director of the NRCC.
The DCCC added Texas’ 25th Congressional District race between Democrat Julie Oliver and Republican Rep. Roger Williams to its Red to Blue program and is targeting nine other districts across the state.
“That means that we’re going to provide her with grassroots, political, fundraising, communications support to help her flip that district,” said Avery Jaffe, a spokesperson for the DCCC.
The Texas Democratic Party criticized the DNC in August for not highlighting prominent Texans at the party’s national convention. But Abhi Rahman, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party, said the Biden campaign has already invested more in the state than any presidential candidate in the past 25 years.
“It’s not a one person does all the work here, because we have so many groups investing in Texas,” Rahman said. “Texas is the biggest battleground state.”