AUSTIN, Texas - The 2020 presidential election is expected to draw the largest turnout in Travis County's history and Democrats and Republicans believe it will be a fight to the finish.
For 44 years, Republican presidential candidates have won over the majority of voters in Texas, but with everything from mail-in ballot drop-offs to socially distanced voting, no one is expecting 2020 to be a typical election year.
"For the longest time, Texas was known as kind of the nation's ATM, especially for Democrats. Democrats would fly in here, take money, and then put it into other states like Ohio and Michigan and stuff like that. Now, it's the complete opposite. Money's coming from those states to Texas, because they know that Texas can flip and, if Texas flips, Donald Trump, can't win the election," said Abhi Rahman with the Texas Democratic Party.
"They have to cast this vision like we're headed toward a blue Texas and, if we don't do something now, then we're either on the wrong side of history, or we're missing a grand opportunity. So Democrats are ready. They're hungry, they're fighting. They've got a Republican in the White House that they can't stand," said Andy Hogue with the Travis County Republican Party.
A University of Texas and Texas Tribune poll of 1,200 likely voters shows President Donald Trump leading in Texas by five percentage points as of October 9. Republicans believe even more voters will turn out for Trump this year than those who did in 2016.
"It's going to be Trump by a landslide if I had to predict it. But, again, how much have the democrats built on that initial visceral hatred for Trump for the head in 2016," Hogue said.
However, Democrats said the UT/TT poll tends to favor Republicans and instead point to an October Public Policy poll of about 720 Texas voters that gives former Vice President Joe Biden the lead 49 to 48. A population of younger, more diverse voters this year will make an even bigger dent according to Democrats.
"We are seeing the Texas electorate shift right before our very eyes. And that's really what's driving the democratic game here. Texas was never a red state. It was a non-voting state. And you're going to see just what happens when Texans vote in November," said Rahman.
It's no surprise Democrats and Republicans disagree on what matters enough to drive voters to the polls. Democrats said the republican party is too extreme and calls the way the president handles health care and the coronavirus shameful. Meanwhile, Republicans said they are focused on reopening Texas and funding public safety.
Still, the one thing they agree on is that the presidential election really comes down to a single question. "I would say Donald Trump's the number one reason people are gonna go to the polls. One way or the other, it's all about Trump. It's a referendum on Donald Trump," Hogue said.
Early voting begins October 13 and polling locations will be open Monday through Saturday 7a-7p and Sunday 12p-6p. The last day to vote early is October 30.