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Texas Matters: The Election's Final Stretch

Texas has never seen an early voting surge like this before. Driven by the acrimonious contest between presidential candidates Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, voting lines have been long ever since early voting kicked off on October 24th.

With 38 electoral votes, second only to California, keeping Texas a red state is critical to Republican plans  of retaking the White House. This is true for this Tuesday and into the future.

A University of Texas poll released last week showed Clinton 3 percentage points behind Trump in Texas. In the past few presidential elections in Texas the Republican candidate won the state by a margin of 10 points or more. In 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney won by more than 15 percent.

Segment #1

For analysis of expected voter trends we turn to Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report - a non-partisan online newsletter that covers Texas politics.

Segment #2

The need for strong action on climate change has never been more urgent. August was the 380th consecutive month in which temperatures were warmer than the 20th century average. A poll last March by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found the 73% of registered voters say that global warming is real and is happening. However, Climate change has not been a major issue in the presidential election. But one could say climate change in on the ballot in the Texas 21st Congressional District. Environmental activists across the nation are closely watching this congressional election due to the climate change denying stance of the incumbent Lamar Smith.

Segment #3

Because of the way congressional districts are drawn in Texas – it’s expected that very few seats will swing on November 8th. In fact of the 35 congressional seats, only one is considered in play. That’s the massive 23rd congressional district that stretches from San Antonio to the border and west to El Paso. There is a rematch between first term incumbent Republican Will Hurd and the man who lost the seat two years ago, Democrat Pete Gallego. This contest has burned through almost $13 million dollars – making it the most expensive congressional race in Texas history. To watch the barrage of 30 second attacks both candidates are buying in prime time TV you don’t learn much about the candidates. Texas Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank profiles the two; Republican Will Hurd and Democrat Pete Gallego.

Segment #4

When voters in Texas head to the polls and work their way down ballot – they will be asked to make selections for 3 seats on the state supreme court and 3 for the state court of criminal appeals. But according to the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law those ballot items discriminate against Latino voters – because these judges are being selected via a statewide majority – which diminishes the representation of minorities on the two Texas high courts. They are suing in Federal Court arguing the method of electing these justices violate the voting rights act. Ezra Rosenberg is the co-director of the Voting Rights Project for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Segment #5

In just a matter of days now, the 2016 presidential election will finally be over. So after months of hot mics and contentious rhetoric from Democrats and Republicans, how does a divided country come together again? KERA's Rachel Osier Lindley gets a lesson from next door neighbors in Dallas.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi