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Early voting boosts hopes for Biden in Texas

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An unprecedented surge in early voting and a raft of public opinion polls put Joe Biden tantalizingly close to a political prize that has eluded Democratic presidential candidates since 1976: Texas.

According to the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida, as of Tuesday, nearly eight million Texans had cast ballots.

That's close to 90% of the entire 2016 vote, a higher percentage than any state in the country.

And a poll by a Rice University professor and the University of Houston found Biden leading over President Donald Trump with early voters: 59% to 39%.

Democrats also point to more than three million newly registered voters in the state, many of whom moved to Texas from predominantly Democratic areas.

DJ Ybarra is the executive director of the Harris County Democratic Party, which includes the city of Houston.

"People are really excited to take part of the process. We've had, you know, we set a voter registration record in Texas this cycle. You know we have 2.5 million registered voters here in Harris County alone and the more we talk to people, the more excited that they seem. They're ready to get out, they're ready to go vote against Donald Trump."

A Biden win here could end any chance of Trump's re-election.

But Democrats have been cautious about investing cash and resources here. The Biden campaign has told Reuters they're more focused on traditional battleground states where the polls are more favorable.

That has prompted some frustration from Texas Democrats. Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, who narrowly lost a Senate campaign here in 2018 and showed how close Democrats could come to winning, told reporters last week, "They've invested close to zero dollars in the state of Texas, and they're doing this well. Imagine if they invested some real dollars."

Biden's running mate, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, will visit Texas on Friday, and billionaire Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $15 million in Texas and Ohio in a last-minute bid to flip both Republican-leaning states.

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