News Guide: Trump wins Texas after Democrats eyed inroads

November 4, 2020 GMT
People wait in line to vote in Austin, Texas, before the polls open at 7 a.m. on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 3, 2020. (Jay Janner /Austin American-Statesman via AP)
People wait in line to vote in Austin, Texas, before the polls open at 7 a.m. on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 3, 2020. (Jay Janner /Austin American-Statesman via AP)
People wait in line to vote in Austin, Texas, before the polls open at 7 a.m. on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 3, 2020. (Jay Janner /Austin American-Statesman via AP)
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People wait in line to vote in Austin, Texas, before the polls open at 7 a.m. on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 3, 2020. (Jay Janner /Austin American-Statesman via AP)
1 of 9
People wait in line to vote in Austin, Texas, before the polls open at 7 a.m. on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 3, 2020. (Jay Janner /Austin American-Statesman via AP)

President Donald Trump won Texas’ 38 electoral votes Tuesday after record early voting had buoyed Democrats’ hopes of shaking the GOP’s grip on America’s most reliable red state.

Suburban revolt around booming big cities paired with nearly 10 million of the state’s 16.9 million registered voters casting ballots before Election Day gave Republicans a rare sweat in Texas, but Trump still bested Democrat Joe Biden there.

The early vote numbers surpassed the total number of votes from the 2016 general election. In 2016, Trump took Texas by a 9 percentage point margin, with most Democratic districts located in South Texas and major cities including Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio.

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The Texas House was in play for the first time in nearly two decades, while there was tighter than usual competition for multiple congressional seats in historically red districts.

VOTING CHALLENGES

In-person voting was the main method of casting a ballot since Texas was one of just five states that did not dramatically expand mail-in voting this year because of COVID-19. Months of legal challenges from state and party officials have played out in the courts over who is eligible for a mail-in, absentee ballot and where they could be dropped off.

In Texas, voters must be 65 years or older; disabled or out of the county on Election Day and during early voting to apply for a mail ballot. Officials from the U.S. Postal Service warned the Texas Secretary of State’s office that given the state’s current ballot deadlines, they could not guarantee some ballots would make it to voters or be mailed in on time.

As late as Monday, a group of Republican activists were also fighting to halt drive-thru voting in Houston. A federal appeals court panel denied the request in a one-sentence, late-night ruling.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES

Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn was reelected Tuesday over Democratic opponent MJ Hegar.

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Cornyn had not faced a challenge like Hegar’s since being elected in 2002. Two years ago, Beto O’Rourke’s unsuccessful challenge against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz was the closest Senate race the state has seen in 40 years.

In high-profile races, Republican Ronny Jackson, Trump’s former doctor, won the U.S. House race in the Texas Panhandle, defeating Democratic competitor Gus Trujillo.

Republican Rep. Chip Roy will return to Congress after staving off a challenge from Democrat Wendy Davis, who catapulted to fame in 2013 after staging a 13-hour filibuster that temporarily blocked an anti-abortion bill in the Texas Legislature.

Six U.S. House Republican incumbents announced they would not seek reelection this year, and Democrats had hoped to flip some of those seats.

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Acacia Coronado is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.