2016 Election Polls: Could Hillary Clinton Win Texas?

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton delivers an economic address at the  Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza on October 3, 2016 in Toledo, Ohio. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton speaks during a rally in Toledo, Ohio. (Getty)

Hillary Clinton is beginning to catch up on Donald Trump in Texas, a state that has voted for the Republican candidate in every election since 1976.

A University of Houston poll released on October 18th shows Trump ahead of Clinton by just three percentage points, leading her 41 percent to 38 percent. This is within the poll’s margin of error. Four percent of those polled chose Gary Johnson, one percent chose Jill Stein, and 16 percent were undecided. The poll also found that Donald Trump has a slightly higher unfavorable rating in Texas than Hillary Clinton does; 48 percent of Texans have a highly unfavorable view of Trump, while 47 percent said the same of Clinton.

This is not the only poll to show Clinton surprisingly close to Trump in the state. In a Survey USA poll released on October 13th, Trump lead Clinton by four points, which is again within that poll’s margin of error. And in a Washington Post/Survey Monkey poll conducted a few days earlier, Trump had a lead of just two points, with Texas being categorized as a toss-up by the pollsters.

For comparison, in the 2012 election, Mitt Romney won Texas by 16 points. John McCain won in 2008 by 12 points, and George W. Bush won in 2004 by 22 points. In an October 2012 poll, Mitt Romney was up in Texas by 16 points, the same margin that he eventually won by.

So does Hillary Clinton actually have a chance of turning Texas blue this year? It sounds preposterous, but it’s becoming less and less unrealistic as the days go by. In their election forecast, Fox News recently switched Texas from “solid Republican” to “leans Republican.” The other states in that category are Iowa, Missouri and Georgia.

On Real Clear Politics’ polling average, Trump currently maintains a 5.7 point lead over Clinton. On FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s election forecast website, Trump has an 83 percent chance of winning Texas. The state still seems like a pretty safe bet for the candidate, then, but the fact that Clinton even has a 17 percent chance of taking it is likely nerve-racking to a lot of Republicans.

Shortly after one of the latest Texas polls came out on Tuesday, Nate Silver pointed out on Twitter that Hillary Clinton has a 17 percent chance of winning Texas, whereas Donald Trump only has a 10 percent chance of wining Pennsylvania, a state which should theoretically be a battleground and which Trump has hopes of taking from Clinton. He has held many rallies in the state over the past few months, and he said back in August that the only way he could possibly lose Pennsylvania is if Hillary Clinton cheats, according to The Washington Post.

Hillary Clinton’s staff is clearly aware of these gains in Texas, and they recently bought a one-week ad campaign to air in the state, according to The Texas Tribune. A 30-second ad will be broadcast for seven days in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio, all cities which contain large pockets of Democratic voters.

Another state that looks like it may turn blue this year is Arizona. Voters there have chosen the Republican candidate in every election for the past 20 years, but now FiveThirtyEight forecasts that Hillary Clinton has a 55.5 percent chance of defeating Donald Trump there.

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