AUSTIN, Texas — Joe Biden has reserved $6.2 million to spend on TV advertising in Texas during the final four weeks of the presidential campaign, a staggering amount for a state that has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1976.
Biden’s campaign will spend more than $530,000 in the Austin market, $1 million in San Antonio, $1.6 million in Houston and nearly $2.6 million in Dallas-Fort Worth, according to data collected by ad tracking firm Advertising Analytics. He’ll also target South Texas markets and Odessa-Midland, according to the ad tracking firm.
The ad buy is set to start Tuesday and continue through the election.
Although Biden’s campaign could cancel the buy or shift spending to other states as the election approaches, Democrats say it’s a promising sign that the Biden campaign is making a concerted effort to win Texas. The spending would be more than any Democratic nominee has invested in the state in decades.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said recent investments from national Democrats made it easier for the Biden campaign to spend in the state.
Polling also looks promising for the Biden campaign. With little previous spending from his campaign, polls continue to show President Donald Trump with a narrow lead over Biden, with some within the margin of error.
“It shows you that they think there’s a possibility,” Hinojosa told the Austin American-Statesman on Tuesday. “Why else do you spend $6 million in Texas?”
Meanwhile, the Texas Democratic Party is preparing a multimillion-dollar ad buy to target Black and Latino markets, and Hinojosa said he hopes Biden will invest in get-out-the-vote efforts in Latino communities, especially those along the border.
“We think that is what is going to push him over the top,” he said, adding that elected officials haven’t historically invested a lot of money in South Texas because there often aren’t close-fought statewide races. “There isn’t that big push of money being spent to get the vote out. We think that really that’s the next step he needs to get to, and we think he can achieve that.”
Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris have yet to make an appearance in Texas during the general election campaign, but Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, campaigned Monday in San Antonio and Edinburg, the county seat of Hidalgo County, the most populous in the Rio Grande Valley. He’ll travel to Dallas on Tuesday morning to meet with Jewish community leaders and other faith leaders.
The Biden campaign also ramped up its efforts in South Texas in recent weeks in an effort to boost voter turnout in the reliably Democratic region.
But Samantha Cotten, a Texas spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, said Texas voters will reject Biden, calling the Lone Star state “Trump country.”
“The last-ditch effort by the Biden campaign 28 days out is comical. We welcome them to continue lighting their money on fire in a state that will resoundingly reelect President Trump on Nov. 3,” Cotten said.
The Trump campaign does not have any ad buys currently reserved in Texas, according to Advertising Analytics.
Biden’s advertising blitz comes days after Beto O’Rourke, the former El Paso congressman who came within 3 points of defeating U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in 2018, made the case for increased spending in Texas in an op-ed for The Washington Post with Tory Gavito, president and co-founder of Way to Win, a national coalition of Democratic donors, and former executive director of the Texas Future Project.
The two urged the campaign to invest big, late money, which they said could “put an end to the suspense about whether President Trump will concede defeat Nov. 3.”
If Biden wins Texas’ 38 electoral votes, Trump would have no viable path to victory.
Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report and one of the nation’s top political forecasters said Monday that if Texas votes for Biden, the state could play a pivotal role in the election.
“If the kind of national polling we’re seeing now were to hold, the tipping point for outlets to “call” the race for Biden on Election Night could actually be a blue Texas,” he tweeted.
“Democrats have historically failed to invest in Texas, despite the size of this prize, because they believed the door is closed to Democratic presidential candidates,” O’Rourke and Gavito wrote. “But, like many things in 2020, this year is different — Biden has his foot in the door and needs to kick it open for a quick end to the election.”
O’Rourke’s Powered by the People, a political action committee, also announced Tuesday that it would hold an all-day phone bank Monday to reach 1 million Texans.
Also Tuesday, The Lincoln Project, a group of prominent Republicans aiming to defeat Trump, announced that it would invest $1 million in Texas to target Hispanic voters.
The group is calling the campaign “Operation Sam Houston” and will release several Texas-specific ads that will run on TV in Central Texas, as well as smaller counties, including Lubbock.
The ads, some of which will be in Spanish, will target Hispanic voters and suburban and rural Republican women. The ads are likely to run through Election Day, according to Lincoln Project spokesman Nate Nesbitt.
“Texas has been moving towards a swing state for many cycles now and Donald Trump has dramatically accelerated that trend,” said Mike Madrid, co-founder of the Lincoln Project. “The polling data is undeniable and has been consistent for months — Republican voters are leaving Trump and Democrats are historically energized to turn him out of office. We see an opportunity in Texas and we are going to take advantage of it.”
Texas GOP chairman Allen West called the group “dishonorable, characterless and devoid of human integrity.”
“The members of the Lincoln Project have duly made themselves my opposition, an adversary, and I am focused on defeating them along with the progressive socialist left, the Democrat Party, here in the Lone Star state,” West said in a statement.
©2020 Austin American-Statesman, Texas