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Will Texas vote for Clinton or Trump? Another strange thing in a strange presidential campaign

A recent poll showed Texas as too close to call in the U.S. presidential election, a major development if true. WASHINGTON POST

This year’s U.S. presidential campaign is unlike any others in recent memory – and a poll this week offered a hint that the electoral map in November may break with tradition as well.

The Washington Post poll, which covered over 74,000 registered voters, concluded that several once solidly red or blue states were a too-close-to-call purple.

On the red state side, Arizona, North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, and, extraordinarily, Texas could go either way:

  • Except for 1996, Arizona last voted for a Democrat for president in 1948.
  • Except for 1976 (when Southerner Jimmy Carter was running) Mississippi last voted for a Democrat in 1956. Since 1948, Mississippi’s electoral college votes have gone to white supremacist third party candidates three times – in 1948, 1960 and 1968.
  • Except for Carter in 1976 and U.S. President Barack Obama in his first election in 2008, North Carolina has been consistently Republican in presidential votes since 1964.
  • Georgia is a bit of a special case, since voters there helped elect former governor Carter in 1976 and loyally stuck with him during the Reagan landslide of 1980. Georgians also helped elect Southerner Bill Clinton in 1992. But that’s three presidential elections out of the last 13 – nine went to Republicans, and one, in 1968 to white supremacist George Wallace.
  • Texas, with its 38 Electoral College votes, is a major state to be in play. Except for Carter in 1976, Texans last voted for a Democrat in 1968. Looking more closely at the results, the last solid win for a Democrat in Texas was Lyndon Johnson’s in 1964. (Johnson’s political base was in Texas.) After the civil rights era, it wasn’t until 1992 that a Democrat won the White House without also winning Texas.

WATCH: Hillary Clinton lashed out at Donald Trump for remarks he made Wednesday night about his plan to sack high-ranking U.S. military generals if elected president.

Click to play video: 'Trump ‘temperamentally unfit’ to be president: Clinton' Trump ‘temperamentally unfit’ to be president: Clinton
Trump ‘temperamentally unfit’ to be president: Clinton – Sep 8, 2016

The idea that Texas could become competitive has intrigued observers of U.S. politics for years, because of the electoral votes at stake. And given Republican contender Donald Trump’s comments about Mexico, Hispanic voters are shunning him. Hispanics are expected to outnumber whites by 2020 in Texas, and be a majority of the state by 2042.

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This week, the Dallas Morning News, which has a famously conservative editorial page, endorsed Hillary Clinton, writing that “Trump’s values are hostile to conservatism,” citing what it called his “astounding absence of preparedness,” and arguing that “his improvisational insults and midnight tweets exhibit a dangerous lack of judgment and impulse control.”

The last Democratic presidential hopeful the paper endorsed was Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940.

Though it wasn’t shown to be in play in the Post poll, Utah drew attention in August as an unlikely swing state.

Utah, which has voted Republican since 1964, and with one exception since 1948, would seem to be as much of a GOP stronghold as it’s possible to be.

On the other hand, Utah’s GOP primary voters gave Trump a crushing 14 per cent support. Many observers say that Trump’s problem in Utah is that while Mormons tend be conservative and vote Republican, they are also offended by Trump’s personal style and abrasive rhetoric.

In August, the New York Times spoke to Utah Mormons who were considering voting for a Democrat for the first time in their lives, but without enthusiasm.

A recent poll showed the state in a rough three-way split between Trump (37 per cent), Clinton (27 per cent) and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson (23 per cent). (In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney got over 70 per cent of the vote in Utah.)

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Evan McMullin, a Mormon former CIA officer from Utah who is running for the presidency as an independent conservative, may end up as a little-known niche candidate for anti-Trump conservatives – nationally. In Utah, however, his local credentials may make him a factor in a state with lots of conservatives who can’t stand Trump.

Will McMullin divert enough Republican votes to make Utah the unlikeliest blue state in November? We’ll see.

However, the Post poll showed some weaknesses for Democrats as well – Wisconsin and Michigan were also too close to call.

Wisconsin has been voting for Democrats for the presidency since backing Reagan’s re-election in 1984, and Michigan has been blue since voting for George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Trump’s opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement has attracted support in parts of the Midwest where job loss is blamed on free trade.

 

 

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