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

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Trump in a photo montage.
Different polls in Texas show very different outcomes for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Trump.

With 8.5 million votes already cast, Texas may be the election's biggest mystery. Just days before Nov. 3, polls range from Trump by 5 points to Biden by 4.

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 You can follow him on Twitter @rickholter.

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Updated: October 28, 2020 at 12:52 PM CDT
Updated with additional polling information.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. 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.