House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the Travis County Democratic Party’s annual Johnson Bentsen Richards Dinner Monday night that Texas is “ground zero” for the Democratic Party in 2020, and the results of a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune released Tuesday suggest she may be right.

“Texas is ground zero for us in the next election,” Pelosi told the packed crowd of a thousand at the Hyatt Regency Austin.

“When it turns and it will soon, it will make all the difference right here in Texas and in the lives of individuals, it will make a difference in the country and it will make a difference in the world,” Pelosi said.

According to the UT/TT poll, right now it appears that Texas could be on the line in the 2020 presidential race, with a slight majority voters saying they would choose someone other than President Donald Trump if the presidential election were held now.

Forty-five percent said they would “definitely vote for someone else,” while 39 percent said they would “definitely vote to re-elect Donald Trump.” Add in the ten percent who say they would “probably vote to re-elect Donald Trump,” and six percent said they would “probably vote for someone else,” and it is a virtual draw.

Right now, former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro is among the crowded field of Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for president, and former U.S. Rep. Beto O”Rourke, who ran a strong but losing campaign for U.S. Senate against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in November, is considered a good bet to join the race in the near future.

The UT’/TT poll found that Texas voters now know O’Rourke and mostly have a settled opinion on him — 43 percent favorable, 45 percent unfavorable and 12 percent neutral or no opinion.

Castro, despite having been in the Obama Cabinet as secretary of housing and urban development and having been considered by Hillary Clinton as a running mate in 2016, is far less known. Of Castro, 26 percent had a favorable impression, 32 percent an unfavorable impression and 42 percent have a neutral or no impression.

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from February 15 to February 24 and has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2.83 percentage points.

In her remarks, Pelosi made it clear that the national party is looking to focus its attention on Texas in the coming months.

“This state is so important,” Pelosi said. “In the next ten months, eight months really, Texas will be ground zero for us to win more seats in the House of Representatives, and in doing so to win more seats in the state House.”


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