AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — New polling of Texas voters Wednesday shows Vice President Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump by one point in a further tightening in the traditionally red state.
The Quinnipiac University poll indicated 45% of voters support Biden while 44% support Trump. The June poll was equally tight, with Trump receiving 44% support to Biden’s 43%. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Texas by nine percentage points in 2016.
“With crises swirling through American society and a country deeply divided, there’s no other way to slice it,” said Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy. “It’s a tossup in Texas.”
Fifty-six percent of Texas voters said they believe Trump would be better at handling the economy than Biden, who received 40% support. Biden received 51% support for addressing racial inequality to Trump’s 39%. Both candidates received 47% support for how they would handle a crisis.
The candidates’ bases of support remain deeply polarized, with 94% of Democrats saying they would support Biden, while 89% of Republicans back Trump. Fifty-one percent of independent voters backed Biden while 32% backed Trump.
Biden enjoys a wider 8-point lead nationally in a new Reuters/Ipsos poll Wednesday. That poll found 46% of voters supporting Biden while 38% support Trump. Sixty-one percent of independent voters in that poll said they support Biden, while 39% back Trump.
Experts say it is unclear if Trump’s sagging support is due to voters making final decisions about the candidates or if they are influenced by the immediate, transient events of the pandemic and protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Trump’s dire polling has been blamed for his sudden reversal in embracing the wearing of masks to stop the spread of Covid-19. He has been criticized for several weeks for steadfastly refusing to wear one himself when making public appearances. Trump tweeted Tuesday that it is “patriotic” to wear a face mask when social distancing is not possible.
Texas voters remain skeptical of Trump’s handling of the pandemic as 45% told Quinnipiac he has handled the crisis better than Biden would, who received 48% support. Two-thirds say they “personally know” someone diagnosed with the virus, nearly doubling the 35% of respondents from the school’s poll in June.
Texas voters were equally harsh on Governor Greg Abbott, a fellow Republican. His approval cratered to 48%, a drop of eight points since the June poll.
Abbott was originally unscathed from the fallout of the virus when stay-at-home orders were issued in March, but his numbers steadily declined after he began reopening the state in May and confirmed infections exploded after the Memorial Day holiday. He was blasted for repeatedly ignoring pleas by county and city officials to roll back his reopening orders and refusing to order mandatory masks.
Abbott relented four weeks ago when he reclosed bars, reduced restaurant capacity to 50% and required masks in public spaces.
The Department of State Health Services reported 9,879 daily new cases Wednesday with 197 new deaths. The state has so far recorded 351,618 total cases with 4,348 deaths.