AUSTIN (KVUE) - Could Donald Trump do what no one has been able to do in more than 20 years: Win Texas for Democrats?
A new Washington Post/Survey Monkey poll has Trump losing the Lone Star State to Hillary Clinton by a single percentage point, 46 percent to 45 percent.
"I think at this stage you need to take outlier polls like this with a grain of salt," said Rice University Political Science Professor Mark Jones, who suggests a Clinton win is highly unlikely. That notwithstanding, Jones cautions Trump's unpopularity among Hispanics may be costly to others.
"He may very well win by only somewhere in the mid-to-high single digits, and that's bad news for downballot Republicans who are in very competitive races from San Antonio to Austin to Dallas to Houston," said Jones.
The state's most contested race, the 23rd Congressional District stretches from San Antonio to El Paso. It pits Democrat Pete Gallego against incumbent Rep. Will Hurd. Even in Republicans' worst-case scenario, they'll maintain dominant majorities in the Texas Legislature.
"The maps are rigged against us," said Texas Democratic Party executive director Manny Garcia, who adds the competition is itself remarkable, considering election districts gerrymandered by Republicans.
"Even though the maps were designed for you to lose, there are still pick-up opportunities out there because of how bad the Republican brand has been tarnished," said Garcia. The Republican Party of Texas declined to comment on the poll.
With the proportion of Hispanic voters increasing about two percent every four years, establishment Republicans, such as Gov. Greg Abbott, have worked to win their support. With Trump leading the party, Jones warns, Texas Republicans face a choice.
"If they continue down Donald Trump's path, they may continue to win for the next few election cycles, but it will be dicier and dicier each cycle," said Jones. "If, on the other hand, they follow the Greg Abbott model and reach out to the Hispanic community, they can retain their majority for the long to medium term."
A new CNN/ORC poll shows Trump up one percent nationally, leading Clinton 49 percent to 48 percent.