Biden makes money moves in Texas

State legislative elections are impacted by Biden’s advertising campaigns, says political science professor

Tyler Burkhardt
Mercury Staff

The 2020 Biden campaign is making an unprecedented move in Texas.

Projected to spend over $6 million on advertising in the state, 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden is spending more than any other Democratic Presidential Nominee in Texas during the last 25 years. This advertising push was accompanied by a visit to the state by former Second Lady Jill Biden during the first week of early voting.

Jill Biden visited El Paso, Houston and Dallas in an effort to turn out Texas Democrats to the polls. While she was here, Jill Biden said that the Biden campaign sees the state as competitive.

“For the first time in a long time, winning Texas is possible,” Jill Biden said during an early vote rally in Fair Park. “[And] not just for Joe, but for the Senate and the state House as well.”

Despite increased spending and campaigning, former Vice President Joe Biden has yet to visit the state himself, and the spending is still nowhere near that allocated to other battleground states, like the 37M Biden has spent so far in North Carolina.

President Trump still leads Texas by an RCP average of 4.4 points, down from his 9% lead in 2016. Texas has not been won by a Democratic Presidential Candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

UTD political science professor Thomas Brunell says that this move by Biden, while important on the stage of the presidential election, is likely more of a push to get down-ballot support in the state House race.

“[Democrats] don’t need Texas to win the Electoral College. But also, by spending money in Texas, they’re forcing the Trump campaign to do the same. And money spent on Texas is money not spent in Florida or Ohio,” said Brunell. “But ultimately, they want to win down-ballot – particularly in the Texas House ­– in order to thwart the Republicans from having a unified state government, which would give themcarte blanche for redistricting.”

Under the Reapportionment Act of 1929, states reassign federal Congressional Districts every 10 years in accordance with the findings of the decennial U.S Census. In Texas, this process is controlled by the State Legislature, which presents an enormous opportunity for the majority party to shape the election prospects of candidates for the House of Representatives. If Democrats can break the Republican Party’s total control of Texas’s governing institutions this November, it could pay major dividends for the party over the next decade.

“The most important part of this election is going to be the state legislative elections across the country,” Brunell said. “These are going to be the people who draw the districts, and if this happens to be a really good year for the Democrats, the Republicans will be paying for doing poorly in 2020 for the next 10 years. That’s the story that doesn’t get told enough about this election: it isn’t just about President Trump or electing a Congressman here. It’s these real down-ballot elections we usually don’t pay attention to which are critical.”