AUSTIN — Former Vice President Joe Biden has regained a narrow lead over President Donald Trump in Texas, after wooing more independents and Hispanics, according to a poll released Sunday by The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler.
Biden’s lead among likely voters is 48%-45%, within the poll’s margin of error.
In the Texas race for U.S. Senate, Republican incumbent John Cornyn lost a bit more ground against Democrat MJ Hegar. Cornyn’s lead now stands at 8 points, down from 11 in September.
Also, in a sign of potential trouble for Texas as it grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, fewer than half of Texas registered voters say they’re likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. That’s a slide from last spring, when about three-quarters were willing.
“Texas remains a tossup because of the public’s attitudes toward President Trump,” said political scientist Mark Owens, who directed the poll.
In September, 32% of Texans said they had no confidence in Trump’s ability to keep communities safe from the coronavirus pandemic, Owens noted. Today, 44% voice that sentiment. Trump, though, still has the advantage as the candidate Texans believe would handle the economy best.
Biden, who was 2 points behind Trump among likely voters in The News and UT-Tyler’s September survey, edged slightly ahead of the president this month by expanding his support among independents and grabbing a better than 3-to-1 advantage among Hispanics.
The former vice president’s rebound from last month, when Trump led among likely Texas voters, 48-46, is sure to boost the already high spirits of state Democrats.
In recent days, some Democratic leaders have bitterly complained that the Biden campaign stinted on buying TV ads in Texas — possibly missing out on an opportunity to proclaim Trump’s presidency kaput on election night.
The poll, though, was taken before Thursday’s final presidential debate. Many Texas Republicans were cheered by Trump’s performance, and especially by Biden’s comment about a national need to transition away from the oil industry, an issue that strongly resonates in the state.
The poll, conducted Oct. 13-20, surveyed 1,012 registered voters. Of those, 925 are likely voters, 408 of whom had already voted and just 120 of whom said they plan to vote in person on Nov. 3. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.08 percentage points for the bigger group, and 3.22 points for the subset of likely voters.
The party split of poll respondents — 40% Republicans, 33% Democrats — “is in line with what we expect to see across the state,” Owens said.
COVID, economy dominate
While Trump’s hospitalization with COVID-19 dominated headlines as the poll was being taken, 63% of Texans said the president’s illness neither heightened nor reduced their concern about the virus. The survey found 25% more concerned and…