EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Dr. Jill Biden was in El Paso on Tuesday morning to kick-off early voting in Texas.
Flanked by local and national VIPs of the Democratic Party, such as Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, Dr. Biden spoke of national efforts to turn Texas blue while taking in some of the Borderland’s most distinctive cultural treasures.
Texas State Sen. Jose Rodriguez spoke to the crowd and encouraged El Pasoans to do whatever possible to activate voters.
Also in attendance were Texas State Rep. Joe Moody and Lina Ortega, Texas House of Rep. candidate Claudia Ordaz Perez, as well as mayoral candidate hopefuls Carlos Gallinar and Veronica Carbajal.
The hour-long Get Out the Vote rally was Dr. Biden’s first stop before heading to Dallas and Houston later in the day.
The event, hosted by the El Paso Young Democrats, was held in the outdoor space nestled between UTEP’s Chihuahuan Gardens and Undergraduate Learning Center.
Social distancing measures were enforced and the podium and microphone were disinfected in between speakers.
Mariachis and folklorico performers welcomed the coterie of local politicians and guests who believe Texas has a shot at turning blue come Nov. 4.
“For the first time in a long time, winning Texas is possible. Not just for Joe, but for the Senate and the State House as well. And if we win here, we are unstoppable,” said Dr. Biden.
The vision to turn Texas blue has become increasingly an opportunity for Democrats looking to drastically change political dynamics in the state.
The 2016 Presidential election, for example, saw Republicans leading by only 9 percentage points in Texas (52 percent of the votes). In 2018, Beto O’Rourke trailed Ted Cruz by only 2 percentage points during the Senate election (48 to 52).
According to polling data in recent years, Texas has been tiptoeing toward a political party flip, and many are confident that 2020 is the year.
Texas added more than 500,000 active new voters to the voting rolls since September and Democratic cities continue to report surges in voter participation, says Abhi Rahman from the Texas Democratic Party.
The Texas Secretary of State reports 1.3 million Texans have registered to vote since 2018, and 1.9 million since November 2016.
According to the Texas Democratic Party, nearly 3 million new voters have been registered since 2016.
Texas has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976, but recent polling margins suggest things could change, with President Donald Trump and former Vice President Biden about neck and neck in the polls.
“As one of the youngest and most diverse states in the country, the electorate in Texas has fundamentally shifted over the past few years. Turnout in the election is expected to break records and Texas Democrats have built a winning coalition of voters because we have earned the trust of Texans,” said Manny Garcia, Texas Democratic Party Executive Director.
Despite the Democrats’ momentum, many Republicans remain confident of a sweep at the polls.
Last week, a poll conducted by the University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with the Texas Tribune reported Trump leading Biden by a margin of 5 percentage points (50 to 45).
According to the Texas Republican Party, since 2019, the GOP has added at least 160,000 registered voters in Texas who have moved to the state.
This past weekend an caravan of vehicles in support of President Trump drove from Album Park throughout El Paso to make their support known.
The “Trump Train” featured supporters wearing “Make America Great Again” merchandise, flags and signs and was flanked by El Paso Police Department officers.
The City of El Paso told KTSM 9 News that a police escort was not provided for the unauthorized caravan, but that units were assigned to monitor the situation and respond appropriately.
“EPPD presence was strictly provided as a public safety measure,” said Laura Cruz-Acosta, Strategic Communications Director for the City of El Paso.
Cruz added that the presence of EPPD at the caravan was not an endorsement of President Trump.