DALLAS — With the primary and runoff over, it’s all eyes on November.
Just over 100 days remain until the general election.
After Tuesday’s heavy turnout among Democrats, the party is gaining confidence.
Polls showing President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden running almost even in Texas also have Democrats energized.
“It’s hard to see [the runoff] results and not feel excited and optimistic,” said Billy Begala of the Texas Democratic Party. “When you have a million Texans turning out to vote in a pandemic, that shows our level of enthusiasm.”
But the same polls are inspiring Republicans, too.
Dallas County Republican Party Chair Rodney Anderson explains it as voter intensity.
“On the Democratic side, they don’t like President Donald Trump, they just flat out don’t like him, so you see voter intensity,” said Dallas County Republican Party Chair Rodney Anderson.
“But as Republicans have seen those polls, you now have that voter intensity ramping up on the republican side. People going, ‘Wait a minute, they’re gaining ground.’ We’ve seen hundreds of our normal activists who start around September or October to get involved. They are involved now.”
Sen. John Cornyn has represented Texas since 2002.
His Democratic opponent M.J. Hegar has never held office. She defeated Texas Sen. Royce West of Dallas in the runoff.
Anderson wonders about Hegar’s support among local Democrats.
“Senator West is very, very well liked in the Dallas area,” he said. “I know there are a lot of people upset about those results. How does that impact the turnout in Dallas County? That remains to be seen, but when we talk back in our strategy sessions, I’m sure that will be a topic of conversation.”
Begala said Hegar and other Texas Democrats have run innovative and successful virtual campaigns and he believes the pandemic will weigh heavily on the results of the election – not because of turnout but because of policy choices.
“Cornyn and the other Republican leaders in Texas – they could have taken this virus seriously, but they didn’t. And voters are now viscerally feeling the effects of having failed leadership,” he said.
Texas leads the nation in the number of uninsured residents and Begala said healthcare is going to be a “massive vulnerability” for Cornyn in November.
But Anderson is confident Texas will remain reliably red.
“I think we hold the Texas House. I think we hold the Texas Senate. I think John Cornyn goes on to win and I believe that President Trump does carry Texas - and probably by a larger margin than what a lot of folks think,” he said.
More from WFAA:
- Before Hegar takes on Cornyn, she must mend relationship with her runoff opponent
- Results: MJ Hegar, Chrysta Castañeda, Lulu Seikaly, Candace Valenzuela win Democratic runoff elections
- Plexiglass, puzzles and pedals: The pandemic economy in Texas
- Republican Party of Texas leaders opt for virtual convention after loss at state Supreme Court
- Election costs soar in preparation for voting during COVID-19 pandemic