DALLAS (CBS11) – Despite Donald Trump’s tightening poll numbers in Texas, Republicans like Cathie Adams, say their confidence isn’t shaken.
“I think he’s going to win Texas hands-down. I don’t trust the polls, but I do trust Texans, and I love Texans and I think Texans can think for themselves and we don’t have to look at a poll to know how to vote,” said Adams.
But Democrats like Rhonda Glenn are optimistic about Hillary Clinton’s chances.
“I’m just so happy she’s running. I’m hoping people have a change of heart and there will be a Democratic Texas,” said Glenn.
Early voting began in Texas Monday with some polling places having long lines all day.
Elections officials in Dallas and Collin Counties say the last time they saw this number of voters was in 2008.
After a third poll showed Trump leading Clinton by four points or less, the website Real Clear Politics moved Texas from the Republican column to toss-up.
But SMU political science professor Cal Jillson believes Trump will still win here.
“I don’t believe the Democrats are going to take Texas or maybe even come that close,” said Jilson. “It could be five points or six or seven, but Republicans are going to carry Texas. It’s a wake-up call for Republicans. It’s a shot in the dark for Democrats, but we’re not be going to be counting 38 Texas electoral college votes in the Democratic margin.”
Texas now has a record number of registered voters: more than 15 million.
Even though many new voters have moved to the Lone Star State from other states, analysts say they don’t believe Texas is changing and turning from Republican red to Democratic blue yet.
But knowing how many voters are Republican and Democrat is difficult because voters don’t register by party in the Lone Star State. So analysts must look at how people vote in the primaries to get a sense of how the state is leaning.
In the most recent primaries, March 1 of this year, more than 2.8 million Republicans voted, while more than 1.4 million Democrats cast their ballots.
That’s a big improvement for Republicans and Democrats from 2012.
But records show compared with primaries, there are millions of more voters during general elections, especially during presidential years.
While Republicans tend to vote more during non-presidential years, Democrats increase their numbers during a presidential election.
Jillson said this year, the margin of victory for Republicans in Texas could be one-third of what it normally is.
In 2008, Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain beat then Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee by 11 points in Texas, 55-44 percent.
In 2012, Mitt Romney beat President Obama in the Lone Star State by a 16 point margin, 57-41 percent.
So Jillson says if fewer Republicans vote for Trump, candidates further down the ballot may be impacted.
Victoria Neave, the Democratic candidate for the Texas House District 107, which extends from East Dallas to parts of Garland and Mesquite said she sees an opening.
“Donald Trump has made a huge impact on our race. People who have not voted in a really long time or first time voters are very excited to be getting out to cast their ballot,” said Neave.
The district’s Republican incumbent, Kenneth Sheets won a very tight race four years ago with 51 percent of the vote.
Two years ago, he won 55 percent of the vote.
Sheets says he’s not concerned Trump will drag him down this time around.
“We’re confident in this election. We think voters are smart enough to understand that there’s a difference between the federal and state level. They’re smart enough to know who they’re going to vote for,” said Sheets.
Jillson said, “It’s a swing district and if you’re top of the ticket is under-performing, and a lot of straight-ticket voting takes place, that could affect you as well.”
That’s why the Clinton campaign issued a statement urging Texans to vote early.
It also explains why Senator Ted Cruz has been criss-crossing Texas, including Dallas, Tarrant, and Denton Counties these past few weeks urging conservatives to vote.
He warned if Republicans stay home, Democrats could pick-up seats they may not during a normal year.
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