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Trump-Biden rematch won’t excite Texas voters

President Joe Biden is running for reelection and could be headed for a rematch against Donald Trump, the former president he beat in 2020.

That’s not good news for Americans tired of Trump-era politics, which means Republicans and Democrats in Texas may have to provide their own 2024 energy.

For many, Biden, 80, and Trump, 76, represent the same old, same old.

recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll revealed that only 47% of Democrats think Biden should run in 2024. Still, 81% of respondents said they’d be likely to support him if he became the nominee.

Presidential elections drive voters to the polls at a higher rate than midterm or municipal contests. The candidate at the top will set the tone for down-ballot contests.

“It’s hard to imagine that there’s going to be any unusual groundswell of enthusiasm,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.

However, the presidential race is still the biggest show on the ballot, and voters will find ways to be motivated, Henson noted.

“There is energy in this race. It’s a kind of negative energy that comes from people’s disdain for the other party’s candidate,” he said. “The question is: What is the trickle-down consequence of that dynamic?”

In Texas, Democrats are pondering whether Biden brings the coattails to close the gap with Republicans who have dominated the state since 2003.

Biden isn’t an exciting candidate. He wasn’t when he won in 2020. But backers hope his steady leadership will help the candidates he’s running with. He faces light opposition in the Democratic primary.

Rebecca Acuña, who in 2020 was state director of Biden’s general election campaign in Texas, said, “Don’t underestimate the number of people excited about a president who delivers and does so with dignity.”

“It’s a great comfort that he’s running for re-election. He’s who we need at this moment,” Acuna said.

Going into the 2020 election, Texas was billed as a battleground by Republicans looking to hold power and Democrats trying to win their first statewide race since 1994.

Much of the hype that year was generated by the 2018 midterms, when Democrats netted 12 seats in the Legislature, and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke came within 2.6 percentage points of Ted Cruz, who is up for reelection next year.

In his 2020 reelection bid against former Air Force combat pilot MJ Hegar, Sen. John Cornyn warned Republicans that Texas was up for grabs, which could have been part worry and part fundraising tactic.

Republicans took the election cycle seriously. With Trump at the top of the ticket, the GOP held power with a high turnout. Cornyn beat Hegar by 10 percentage points.

Cornyn’s 5.9 million votes were the highest of any non-judicial candidate in Texas history.Hegar, with 4.8 million, got more votes than O’Rourke in 2018 and 2022, when he lost the governor’s race against Republican Greg Abbott.

The threat from Democrats wasn’t overblown. Republicans kicked their machinery into gear and Trump, at least in Texas, had a more formidable following than Biden.

If Biden couldn’t pull Texas Democrats to victory in 2020, he’ll have a hard time doing it in 2024. For some voters, the thrill is gone, if it was ever there.

Polls show Biden’s job approval rating underwater, and most people feel the country is headed in the wrong direction. He’s campaigning on his accomplishments and his belief that the job of healing the soul of America is not done.

Some Democrats say Biden’s record and the power of the presidency helps. In 2020 Biden and other Democrats were effective nationwide in attracting young voters, according to Kathleen Thompson, executive director of the liberal group called Progress Texas.

“Progressives see a lot of Democrats as great potentials, but the sure win is President Biden,” Thompson said. “In 2020, young voters broke turnout records and can again for Biden and Democrats down the ballot fighting for free and fair elections, abortion rights, environmental justice, and equality under the law.”

On the Republican side, Trump has a big lead in the GOP primary against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to officially announce his candidacy in the coming weeks.

If DeSantis can upend Trump, he would represent a fresh candidacy for which many Americans are looking, though his policies could attract skeptics.

With Trump as the nominee, Republicans will be stuck with his legal baggage that includes an indictment in New York related to hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and investigations of election tampering in Georgia and mishandling of classified documents. That investigation is being handled by special counsel Jack Smith, whom Trump has called a “lunatic,” “monster,” and “terrorist.”

On the campaign trail, Trump will continue to insist that the 2020 election was stolen from him, a look backward that could hurt him as a general election candidate.

But Trump has a loyal following and should not be underestimated, especially with Biden’s unpopularity.

The most interesting Texas race on the ballot is the Cruz bid for a third Senate term.

He’s a top nemesis for Lone Star Democrats.

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, in his third term, is considering challenging Cruz. Other potential contenders include state Sen. Roland Gutierrez , Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.

If Biden and Trump are the choices at the top, the focus of Texas voters could be one slot down the ballot.

Source: dallasnews