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Three polling-related observations

This story is about the tough spot that Donald Trump is putting professional Latino Republicans in. I have no sympathy for any of them, of course, but what caught my eye in this article was this little nugget:

“I’m not on the anti-Trump movement like some of my colleagues who I talk to every day, but I’m far from an endorsement,” said Leslie Sanchez, a Republican commentator for CBS News, echoing the views of many of these notable Latino conservatives who are skeptical of Trump.

None of these top figures said they will support presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. But they are highly critical of Trump, both because they are offended by his “abhorrent racist rhetoric” (as Sanchez put it) and demoralized by his campaign’s poor engagement with broad swaths of the electorate — including, but not limited to, Latinos.

“Trump is having a maddening effect of turning solid red states purple. Areas that should not have gone in that direction for the next 30 years, he’s managed to do in about four months,” Sanchez said, citing survey work she did in Texas in April.

“Some of the Republican pollsters I talked to there said this should not be happening for at least a generation by natural demographic growth,” she added. “Trump has accelerated that by underperforming in traditionally conservative Latino households.”

In other words, the polls that aren’t being publicly released are in general agreement with the polls that have been publicly released, which is to say they agree that Donald Trump has a much more modest lead over Hillary Clinton in Texas than we are used to seeing. This also suggests that the data we haven’t yet seen in the public polls, about how the vote breaks down along demographic lines, that Trump really has been galvanizing Latino voters, in a way that could very well shake things up at least a little here in Texas. You have no idea how much I’d love to see the data that Leslie Sanchez is talking about.

Then there’s this, in a story about how even with “tighter than expected” polls, the Clinton campaign has no current plans to make a push in Texas.

Texas Republicans, of all groups, are perhaps the most enthused over the idea that the state could be in play in the fall.

Republicans say they would love to see Democrats drawn into what they view as a hopeless money pit. But also, within a state GOP torn over its own nominee, a Clinton offensive could be just what it takes to rally an otherwise morose group.

“The quickest way to activate disenfranchised GOP donors who won’t give to Trump would be an aggressive effort by Democrats to win the state,” said Brian Haley, a Texan who was a top fundraiser in two previous GOP presidential campaigns.

Abbott is one of multiple Republicans who have already sent fundraising emails on the notion.

“She has already made it known that winning Texas will be a focus of her campaign,” Abbott campaign director John Jackson wrote in a recent missive, referring to Clinton. “It’s clear that Hillary will not only continue Obama’s liberal leadership—she will be even worse!”

Hey, Trump may be a racist con man who took days to even put out a tweet about the SCOTUS HB2 decision, doesn’t really care where anyone goes to the bathroom, and scares the bejeezus out of our corporate overlords, but at least he’s not Hillary, am I right? That’s a remarkable admission of weakness, one that lends credence to the idea that Republican turnout could be lower than we have seen in recent Presidential elections. That’s got to be a scary prospect for various downballot Republican candidates, including an especially all the countywide Republicans in Harris County.

Finally, here’s the initial FiveThirtyEight view of Texas, which has Trump up by five (!) points, 48.5% to 43.5%, on Hillary Clinton. Here’s how that might break down:

Candidate     Total Votes    Pct
Trump           3,880,000  48.5%
Clinton         3,480,000  43.5%
Johnson           528,000   6.6%
Stein             112,000   1.4%

I’m assuming turnout of 8 million, as was the case in 2008 and 2012. Jill Stein’s numbers are not included on the 538 page, as none of the recent polls included her by name, so I just assigned her the remaining percentage. Under this scenario, Clinton exceeds Obama’s 2012 vote total by about 170,000 votes though she falls short of 2008 by about 50,000. Trump falls well short of Mitt Romney, who drew 700,000 more votes than this, while both Johnson and Stein far exceed their 2012 numbers – I mean, the total of Johnson plus Stein in 2012 was a hair over 113,000, or just barely more than what Stein is projected to have by herself here. That’s quite a significant change, if it holds.

Now, I think Clinton will do better than 3.5 million votes, and I have a hard time imagining Trump getting fewer than 4 million. I figure the difference will come in part from total turnout being higher than 8 million, and in part from the totals for Johnson and Stein being less than what is projected here. I could be wrong about either or both of those – this is for sure a weird year – but for now at least, all the data we have points to this being a closer, possibly much closer, Presidential race in Texas than we have seen recently. Now we need to wait and see what the trendlines look like.

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