The news hasn’t really sunk in for the Republicans yet, but the decision by the Dallas Morning News to endorse Hillary Clinton is a major blow for Donald Trump’s campaign in Texas and beyond. Trump’s numbers in Texas have already got GOP leaders worried and this endorsement should give the GOP pause for thought.
The Dallas Morning News has endorsed every Republican presidential candidate since Wendell Willkie 75 years ago. Its editorial board didn’t even endorse Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Johnson was a Texas native running in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The 1964 election took place at a time when Democrats were still strong in southern states.
The newspaper, based in George W. Bush’s home town, has been fiercely loyal to the Republicans. The editorial board’s decision to endorse a Democrat and openly attack the GOP nominee is a serious blow to the Republican establishment in Texas. This total about face in the newspaper’s partisan stance raises the possibility that Texas is no longer the solid red state it once was.
Donald Trump’s campaign has already quietly acknowledged difficulties in Texas. Trump campaigned in the Lone Star state over the last month. No Republican presidential candidate has bothered to campaign in Texas so close to the general election. Texans are so loyal to the GOP that the party never thinks serious campaigning there is necessary. That is changing rapidly.
Several major cities in Texas have been trending blue for years. Austin, Dallas and Houston now have large, urban, liberal populations that have helped Democrats make inroads. Trump’s unpopularity and his attacks on Texas Senator Ted Cruz have turned many Texans against him.
The chances of the Democrats turning Texas blue is still remote. Most polls show Trump has a solid lead in Texas, though his lead is smaller than previous GOP candidates. That’s a problem Trump is facing in many red states. The Dallas Morning News’ decision to dump Trump should worry the Republicans this year and in future election cycles.