Politics Can Democrats flip Texas? Kamala Harris visits Lone Star state as early voting there smashes record
'Unprecedented': Voter turnout in election could reach highest rate in more than a century
"Everyone is yearning to have their voices heard right now," one election official in Texas said about the record-breaking voter turnout.It's hardly slowed down since.
FORT WORTH – In a last-ditch effort to pick's pocket in the nation's largest Republican state, Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris came to Texas to lay the blame for coronavirus at the president's feet.
"What people might have done to better prepare," Harris told a friendly audience of about 300 outside First St. John's Cathedral, an African American church on Fort Worth's east side, after accusing Trump of hiding the true dangers of the pandemic from the American people early this year.
That message was part of an overarching call for Democrats to vote by Nov. 3 as the ticket led by former Vice President Joe Biden seeks to wrest Texas from the Republican's 40-year grip in presidential elections.
Fact check: Biden owns 2 of the 4 homes pictured in a viral meme
A viral meme purports to show four $3 million-$7.5 million homes Biden owns. He only owns two of them, neither of which cost more than $3 million.“Bidens 4 3.7.5 million-dollar homes on a 200k a year salary,” a reads meme posted to Facebook Oct. 20.
Unprecedented levels ofin Texas have boosted Democratic hopes.
This week, early votes cast in the state surpassed the total number of ballots cast four years ago. According to the Texas Secretary of State office, 8,969,226 out of 15,101,087 registered voters cast ballots in the entire 2016 general election. The official vote count in Texas through Thursday hit 9,009,850 – two days before the end of early voting.
The Fort Worth stop was part of three-city swing by the Democratic vice president contender, who also visited the border city of McAllen and Houston, the state's largest city. Fort Worth is largest city in Tarrant County, the only urban county in Texas that hasn't gone fully Democratic over the past several cycles.
9 questions about 2020’s record-breaking early vote, answered
How many people have already voted? And what does that tell us about the election?The early vote in 2020 has already far surpassed the total early vote in 2016. The early vote surge indicates turnout in 2020 could be the highest in a century, at around 65 percent of the voting-eligible population, or about 150 million voters.
Two years ago, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke narrowly won Tarrant County as he came within 2.6 percentage points of upsetting Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.
That showing, plus the fevered efforts by Texas Democrats to wrest control of the state House for the first time in 20 years, made the state a target for Biden as the campaign headed toward its final weekend.
And that's why Harris, speaking in jeans and sneakers in front of a giant Texas flag under a cloudless sky, made an emotional appeal for Democrats to vote.
"Honor the ancestors," the first Black woman placed on a major-party presidential ticket said as she invoked the name of the late Congressman John Lewis, a pioneer of the civl rights movement of the 1960s.
And, as if acknowledging not on the importance of the Black vote in the Democratic coalition but also the women vote, Harris made an addition to her appeal.
Millions of Americans are voting for the first time this year, and it's not just young people
This year's election is seeing a surge in first-time voters. And it's not just young people.Last week, the Indiana resident voted for the first time.
"This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment," she said of the measure that guaranteed women's right to vote. "The ancestors. The suffragettes. It's important to honor those who fought for this precious right."
Arriving in Fort Worth, — John C. Moritz (@JohnnieMo) give reporters a wave as she exits the jet but doesn’t stop for questions
The Texas Republican Party, meanwhile, used Harris' visit as an opportunity to fire up the GOP base as polls have consistently shown Trump and Biden separated by just single digits with the lead changing hands several times. And GOP used the visit to make a pitch for campaign cash.
"Radical Democrats from across the country are pouring emergency funding into Texas – and they will stop at nothing to dismantle our Texan way of life," the state party said in a fundraising email. "This is our now-or-never moment and the line in the sand has been drawn. Which side do you stand on?"
Added Trump spokeswoman Samantha Cotten: “Texans aren’t fooled by phony politicians like Kamala Harris who is making a last ditch effort in the Lone Star State and come November, voters will reject the Democrats' radical agenda of eliminating the oil and gas industry, hiking our taxes, and taking away our Second Amendment rights in favor of four more years of President Trump."
Survey: Nearly 2 out of 3 voters will cast their ballots early in-person or by mail, not on Election Day
The survey showed a significant partisan divide, too. Those supporting Biden are more likely to say they plan to vote by mail than those who support Trump.When combining those who are voting by mail (42%) and those who voting early in-person (26%), nearly 2 in 3 voters will be casting their ballot ahead of Election Day, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project.
Harris' 30-minute speech without notes hit on all the themes important to Democrats: Protecting Obamacare and coverage for pre-existing conditions, addressing climate change, protecting immigrants and more federal assistance for higher education and home ownership.
Harris' visit also provided something of a bookend in Texas for the Biden camp. Jill Biden, the nominee's wife, visited El Paso, Dallas and Houston when early voting in the state opened Oct. 13. Harris visit to the state came on the final day of early voting.
“There’s no doubt that Texas is in play," said Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of El Paso. "In my view, we are on the verge on turning the state blue and the visits by Dr. Biden and Senator Harris are a clear recognition of that fact. Make no mistake — Biden will win Texas.”
Harris' stop in Fort Worth was significant because of its location in the last remaining urban county that is not considered a lock for the Democrats. In 2016, Trump won Tarrant County with a cushion of more than 8.5 percentage points. But two years later, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Beto O'Rourke captured the county by seven-tenths of a point and the party managed to flip a state Senate seat in a district anchored by Fort Worth.
Fact check: No evidence Kamala Harris ever said 'looters are just feeding their hungry kids'
While Sen. Kamala Harris has previously repeatedly condemned looting, viral posts falsely claim she said "looters are just feeding their hungry kids.""KAMALA HARRIS says Looters are just feeding their hungry kids?" reads an Oct. 28 Facebook post that has been shared over 1,800 times.
The Trump camp has said Texas will remain in the red column again this year in no small measure because of the president's overwhelming advantage in the state's sprawling rural regions, and the GOP's built-in get-out-the-vote advantage that's been in place for cycle after cycle since the the middle 1990s.
Sharron Spriggs, who was among those sitting on socially distanced folding lawn chairs on the church grounds, said she was energized by Harris' visit and touched by her remarks about the pandemic.
"I buried two in my family from the virus this week," Spriggs said.
Harris' stop in McAllen, the second-largest city in the lower Rio Grande Valley, is seen as an effort to boost enthusiasm in one of the most reliable Democratic regions of Texas – but also one with traditionally anemic voter turnout.
While early voting turnout in nearly every section of the state was topping 50%, counties along the border have failed to keep pace. Turnout in Hidalgo County, where McAllen is the largest city, was just 42% through Wednesday. Neighboring Cameron County's turnout was even lower at 38%.
The big prize in Texas is Houston, Harris County's seat where nearly 2.5 million of the state's 17 million registered voters live. Like Tarrant County, which shares a border with Dallas, Houston's media market is massive.
Will Democrats expand their control in the House? Here are the races and surprises to watch
Democrats are trying to flip key Republican strongholds, as the election remains close between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. © Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds the gavel during the opening session of the 116th Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 3, 2019. More: Control of the Senate hangs in the balance on Election Day. Here are key Senate races to watch More: President Trump claimed during the debate the GOP will take back the House on Election Day. That is unlikely.
In Fort Worth, Harris ended her remarks sensing Texas Democrats' weariness after four years under Trump.
"This moment will pass. And years from now our children, our grandchildren, and others –they will look at us – each one of us – and they will look in the eye and ask us 'where were you at this moment,'" Harris said. "And we will tell them so much more than what we felt, Fort Worth. We will tell them what we did."
John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network in Austin. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter.
Contributing: Rebecca Morin and William Cummings of USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times:
USPS Service blows deadline to check for missing ballots. About 300,000 can't be traced .
Fearless Forecast Week 9: 3 Rec, 30 Yds Projected Points: 6.4