DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The political winds in the Lone Star State may be shifting.
After being solidly Republican for decades, polls show the presidential race is neck and neck.
On Wednesday, six days before the election, the Cook Political Report moved Texas from “Lean Republican” to “Toss-Up.”
The organization said there is uncertainty because of a lot of people have moved into the state since 2016 and because the polls are close.
The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows President Donald Trump leading former Vice President Joe Biden here by just two point six percentage points, 48.0% to 45.4%.
Republican leaders, such as Texas Republican Party Chair, retired Lt. Col. Allen West discounted the move. “I can tell you Texas is not a toss-up.”
West said Wednesday he believes the President will win Texas.
“When you think about what Vice President Joe Biden said at the debate last Thursday, I was watching that debate in Odessa. It was like a lead balloon to hit here in Texas talking about transitioning from our oil and gas industry.”
Former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who nearly unseated Texas Senator Ted Cruz two years ago, welcomed the news.
“The fact that we have a real contest on our hands in Texas doesn’t mean that Joe Biden is going to win, it means that it is possible.”
O’Rourke, while campaigning in Garland with State House candidate Brandy Chambers, said Biden could win Texas if early voting continues its record pace.
“We will not only have a Democratic majority in the State House, Joe Biden on the night of November 3, will become the first Democratic nominee in 44 years to win the electoral college votes of Texas.”
SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson said the President needs to win Texas if he wants to be re-elected, and said the move by the Cook Political Report is a reflection of the current environment.
“Well, it’s big news, obviously, because Texas is the second largest state in the union.”
Wilson said he still gives President Trump the advantage.
“I’d still rather be Trump than Biden right now, in terms of winning Texas, I think he’s more likely than not to win it. But it’s by no means a shoo in. And it’s more competitive than Texas has been in a long time.”
Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris will campaign in Fort Worth, McAllen, and Houston Friday.
O’Rourke said, “She’s coming to ensure that we build an even greater majority in Tarrant County where we also happen to have a number of competitive state House races so we are very grateful to the Biden-Harris campaign.”
Former New York City Mayor and Democratic Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg’s super PAC is spending millions of dollars in Texas on tv ads for Biden.
West said both developments are too little, too late.
“I think if anything, it’s a cursory attempt at seeing like you did put up a fight here in Texas. The fact is you did no see Vice President Joe Biden come to Texas since March of this year.”
He said he would still like to see the President campaign in Texas before Tuesday to thank his supporters and volunteers who’ve worked hard to get people out to the polls.
“I think the President may just want to come by and say howdy.”
On Sunday, former Governor and U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry told reporters on a Trump campaign conference call that he didn’t believe the President needed to come to Texas and that he would carry the state.
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