FORT WORTH — Senator Kamala Harris urged Texas Democrats on Friday to keep fighting hard, as early voting numbers shattered records in this traditionally ruby red state.
More than 9 million people have already voted in Texas, more than cast ballots in the state in the entire 2016 election. About a quarter of those voters did not cast ballots in 2016, according to TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm,
“You all have been doing your thing,” Ms. Harris, told a socially distanced audience gathered on a sunny afternoon in Fort Worth. “Now, we know this is no time to let up on the pedal, though.”
That Ms. Harris plans to spend much of the day in Texas, with stops in McAllen and Houston tonight, underscores the political changes sweeping this fast-growing state. Polling shows a near dead heat, giving only a slight edge to President Trump.
Much of the increased Democratic support in Texas has come from demographic changes in the suburbs of Dallas and Houston, where voters have been turned off by the president’s divisive rhetoric and disapprove of how he’s handled the coronavirus pandemic.
The Biden campaign has not put significant time or money into Texas, despite the pleas of local Democrats. Strategists in the state see a path to winning that largely mirrors Ms. Harris’s itinerary: Record turnout in urban areas, capturing suburban swing voters and boosting numbers in traditionally lower turnout border areas.
Ms. Harris warned of Republican efforts to suppress voting rights, pointing to lawsuits and complicated rules for mail voting.
In Texas, a state that does not permit no-excuse absentee voting, Gov. Greg Abbott extended early voting by an additional six days over the objections of his fellow Republicans. But he’s also aggressively sought to limit the drop-off locations for absentee ballots.
“They know our power,” she told the largely Black audience. “They know that when we vote, we win.”