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Presidential Polls Diverge Widely In Texas. Who's Right? Who Knows?

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Trump will have their final debate on Thursday.
Caroline Amenabar/NPR; Gage Skidmore/Flickr
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Trump will have their final debate on Thursday.

There have been eight new polls of Texas likely voters released in the last five days — and on the presidential level, the results are decidedly mixed: Six show Donald Trump in the lead, and three have Joe Biden in front.

The widest Texas gap came in a survey done by YouGov for the University of Houston's Hobby School of Public Affairs, which had the Republican incumbent up by five points. The New York Timesand Siena Collegeshowed Trump leading by four.

On the other hand, Biden had a four-point lead in a Citizen Data survey released Thursday, and his edge was three in a poll from The Dallas Morning Newsand the University of Texas at Tyler. The pollster Data for Progress put Biden's lead at one.

Then there's the latest polling by Survey Monkey. It delivered a split decision: Trump leads in Texas among likely voters by four points; when it's sorted by overall registered voters, Biden noses ahead by one.

It's vital to remember that all these polls are either within the margins of error or just outside it.

The wide polling variance in Texas stands out in a year when overall polling has been generally steady. As the The New York Times' blog The Upshot put it, "We don’t see anything near this kind of variation in any other battleground state."

The numbers-obsessed siteFiveThirtyEight still give the president a two-in-three chance of winning Texas. But the influential Cook Political Report just moved the Lone Star State from "leans Republican" to "toss-up."

With 8-point-5 million votes already in — 95% of the total vote in 2016 — Texas, and the pollsters, are in uncharted territory.

Got a tip? Email Rick at rholter@kera.org. You can follow him on Twitter @rickholter.

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Copyright 2020 KERA

Rick Holter is KERA's vice president of news. He oversees news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News won 41 awards last year, including the station's first-ever national Edward R. Murrow Award for a video in its series One Crisis Away: Rebuilding A Life. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.