The race for the White House in Texas is so close in the Nov 3 presidential election that it’s beginning to look uncharacteristically like a swing state, according to a new Univision News poll, which also surveyed voters in Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona.
Donald Trump and Joe Biden are only separated by a slight margin (49% for the president and 46% for the Democrat) among registered voters in Texas, according to the poll carried out with the collaboration of the University of Houston and conducted between October 17 and 25. The difference falls within the margin of error, making it a virtual tie.
Texas is the second largest state in the Electoral College (38 votes to California's 55) and if Biden were to snatch it that would effectively seal the election in his favor.
In that case, the final outcome could be decided in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, states that Trump took in 2016 by small margins and where Biden would only need to hold one in order to secure victory (if he wins Texas). Trump is also struggling in Arizona, another traditional Republican stronghold where political preferences also seems to be shifting.
If Texas goes to the Democrats it would mark a historic milestone, since they have not won the state since 1976, and Latino voters would likely have a key role in such an outcome.
In Florida, Biden leads Trump by only three points (49% to 46%), a difference that is within the poll’s margin of error (3.5%). In Arizona and Pennsylvania, Biden's advantage is five points (50% to 45%).
In all four states, the Hispanic vote largely favors Biden, although Trump has managed to maintain significant support from the Latino community (particularly in Florida, where 37% of Hispanics said they have already voted or will vote for Trump's reelection).
At the national level (where the poll was conducted with UnidosUS/SOMOS), Hispanics voters favored the Democratic candidate by a margin of 41 points (67% vs. 26%).
In the Lonestar state, the number of Hispanics who back Trump is 28%, which is a slight increase compared to September, when an Univision poll showed Trump had 25% of the Hispanic vote. Analysts agree that a larger increase in his Latino base could tip the balance in favor of the president's reelection.
In Texas, and generally in every state where the polls were conducted, voter preferences clearly reflect the nation’s deep political polarization. Beyond the figure of the candidates, what the polls show is a clearly partisan vote. In Texas, 91% of Republicans said they voted or will vote for Trump and 91% of Democrats will vote for Biden.
More so than in previous elections perhaps, younger voters could be decisive, and this time clearly lean towards the Democrats. In Texas, 65% of those under the age of 29 express their support for Biden. But among those over 50 Trump leads by 10 points (53% to 43%).
In the Senate race, Republican candidate John Cornyn leads his race for re-election against the Democratic party challenger, MJ Hegar, by only 3 points (44% to 41%,) which is also within the margin of error. In this case, the support of younger voters for the Democrat is significantly lower, dropping from 65% to 55%.
For Texas voters, the coronavirus is the biggest concern (46%). Among Latinos, who have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, that number rises to 56%.
Overall, 54% of voters disapprove of Trump's handling of the pandemic. But in a further sign of polarization, 83% of Republicans approve and only 31% consider the virus a priority, although 64% approve of the mandatory use of face masks.
In Texas, Trump's attacks on Democrats seem to have wide acceptance, and "stopping the agenda of Pelosi and the Democrats" is a priority for 30% of Republicans, which is similar to support for defeating the coronavirus pandemic.
Early voting in Texas is very high: at the time of the survey it was 48% overall and 51% among Latinos; while only 16% have voted by mail, compared to 34% in Arizona and 26% in Florida. Texas is one of the few states that requires an excuse to vote absentee.
Trump's strongest Hispanic support is in Florida (37% of registered Hispanic voters), where his campaign’s emphasis on the specter of Venezuelan-style ‘21st century socialism’, seems to have permeated Floridians from Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, among whom Trump holds a 10 point advantage.
On the other hand, 63% of Floridians from Puerto Rico favor Biden, while 29% say they support Trump.
At a general level, however, voter preference also follows partisan lines: 89% of Republicans voted or will vote for Trump and 89% of Democrats will do so for Biden.
Meanwhile, the Democratic candidate has 60% support from those under the age of 29.
As in the other states where the polls were conducted, the coronavirus is the biggest concern of voters (53%). About 57% disapprove of the way in which Trump has handled the problem, 34% have not received a check from the government and 81% fear they could get sick.
Once again, voters follow party lines when it comes to addressing the pandemic. Some 40% of voters overall - but 77% of Republicans - think Trump would do better than Biden in protecting Americans from the coronavirus, while 43% of voters think Biden would do better.
Despite the disaster caused by the coronavirus, the behavior of the markets has served as a lifeline for the president and has made a significant group of voters trust Trump more than Biden to keep the country's economy afloat. In Florida the difference is 44% to 40%.
Despite Biden's advantage over Trump among Pennsylvania voters (50% to 45%), about 43% of voters overall think Trump can win re-election, while 42% think Biden can win. Trump enjoys the support of 25% of Hispanic voters.
As in the other states, the coronavirus is the biggest concern (52%). But here, too, the priority of controlling the pandemic is lower among Republicans (35%) than tackling the Democratic agenda (36%), which is their top concern.
More than the other three states, Pennsylvania voters believe Trump would do a better job of fixing the economy (49%) than Biden (40%). Paradoxically perhaps, they believe that Biden would do a better job of keeping the country safe from the coronavirus (51%) than Trump (38%).
In Pennsylvania early voting had reached 35% at the time of the poll (the lowest of the four states), because very few Republicans (24%) had cast ballots.
In Arizona, where the poll was conducted in collaboration with Arizona State University, the Democratic candidate also has a five-point lead over Trump (50-45%).
However, unlike Pennsylvania, Arizona voters are more confident that Biden can win the presidency (44% to 41%).
The behavior of Hispanics in the two states is also very similar: two out of every three voted, or intend to vote, for the Democratic candidate.
In what appears to be a constant across the country, the youth vote could tip the scales. But in Arizona the enthusiasm of younger voters for the Democrats is slightly lower than in other states: 58% for Biden and 38% for Trump.
It is even less when it comes to backing Mark Kelly, the Democratic candidate for Senate (52%). However, Kelly enjoys strong support from non-Hispanic whites, and the majority of the minority vote, which gives him a comfortable advantage among those polled (51% to 39%) compared to the Republican incumbent, Martha McSally.
Methodology: Univision News conducted a national poll and four state-wide polls in Arizona, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania. The polls were implemented from October 17 – 25, 2020. In the Latino national poll 2608 Latino registered voters completed the survey and contains a margin of error of +/- 2.21. The state polls contain an unadjusted MOE of 3.64 in PA and AZ, and 3.56 in FL and TX with total completes in TX=758, PA=723, AZ=725, FL=743. The state polls contain Latino oversamples of n = 401 for PA, and TX, and n = 402 for FL and AZ. The MOE for the Latino portion in each state is +/-4.89.
The Latino National survey was commissioned through a partnership between Univision News and UnidosUS/SOMOS. The Arizona survey was commissioned through a partnership between Univision News and the Center for Latina/os and American Politics Research (CLAPR), at Arizona State University. The Texas survey was commissioned through a partnership between Univision News and the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston.
Surveys were administered in English or Spanish at the discretion of the respondent and included a mix of cell phone, landline telephone, and online self-completed interviews. All respondents are confirmed to be registered to vote and that they consider themselves to be Hispanic or Latina/o. Respondents were randomly selected from the voter file and invitations for interviews were done by live caller or email. Invitations were bilingual at point of contact and allowed respondents to complete the interview in their language of choice. The survey was overseen by Dr. Sergio Garcia-Rios, director of polling for Univision, and administered in collaboration by Latino Decisions and North Star Opinion Research.