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Trump and Biden in virtual tie in Texas in final hours before Election Day, poll average shows

"It's the suburbs being contested this time," said Cal Jilson, SMU professor and political analyst. "And whoever wins the suburbs will carry this election."

DALLAS — On the eve of the 2020 election, party leaders in Texas both say they have a shot to take the state.

Democratic strategists are banking on massive early voting totals and a dramatic increase in urban and suburban registered voters, while Republicans say a red-wave on Election Day will keep Texas firmly in the GOP column.

The latest average of state and national polls tallied by FiveThirtyEight shows barely a percentage point difference between the two presidential candidates: Pres. Donald Trump leading in Texas, updated as of 5 p.m., with 48.5% to former Vice President Joe Biden's 47.4%.

"I think at the end of the day, Texas stays safely red," said GOP strategist Vlad Davidiuk, from his home in the Houston area where a miles-long Trump rally slowed traffic Sunday on the 610 Loop near downtown. "I think once we get to Election Day we're going to see Republicans turn out in historic numbers and we're going to see those votes come home."

But numbers compiled by the Texas Tribune show the other side of the election-eve argument. Already blue counties like Dallas and Harris County, home to Houston, show a near 12% increase in the number of registered voters since the 2016 presidential election. Suburbs in Collin, Denton, and parts of Tarrant counties have recorded an even bigger percentage increase in the number of registered voters. 

That potential block of new Texas voters was part of the motivation for Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris to visit several Texas locations, including Fort Worth, last week. 

A member of the Democratic presidential ticket hadn't made a visit to North Texas this close to an election in nearly three decades.

"It's the suburbs being contested this time," said SMU professor and political analyst Cal Jilson. "And whoever wins the suburbs, and the Democrats have been increasing their strength there, will carry this election. The other part is the increasing diversity of the suburbs. Donald Trump thinks the suburbs are all white. The suburbs are now highly diverse."

The last time Texas went for a Democratic presidential candidate was way back in 1976: Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford. The Lone Star state has been a reliable Republican bank of electoral votes ever since.

"I think Texas will be close," added "Davidiuk. "I don't think it's going to be as close as many of the pollsters seem to think it is."

Just how close – red, blue, or purple – is an answer that's hopefully just a couple dozen hours away.

RELATED: Track election results here on Tuesday night

For more on why experts are watching Texas closely on Election Day, listen to the latest episode of Y'all-itics or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts:

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