Hillary Clinton makes play for Texas with ad buy

A statewide advertising buy from Hillary Clinton comes on the heels of recent polls that show the Democratic candidate for president trailing Donald Trump by a small margin in traditionally red Texas.

A University of Houston poll this week in a four-way race has Clinton trailing Trump by only three points -- much tighter than seen in previous presidential races in Texas. 

A local expert and presidential historian said it’s still unlikely Clinton wins, but her ad buy is making a point.

“I don’t think Hillary Clinton can win Texas, but the fact that we're even having this conversation tells us that the Republicans are in real trouble,” said Jeff Engel, Professor of American History and the Center for Presidential History at SMU.

The thirty second TV ad focuses on her endorsement by The Dallas Morning News, who said Clinton was the better choice for president over Trump. It was the first endorsement of a Democratic candidate by the paper for president since 1940.

The University of Houston poll is one of a few conducted in October that shows the race in Texas is single digits.

“It tells us that Republicans are for the first time running scared in a state that should be in their back pockets,” Engel said.

The last time a Democratic presidential candidate won Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

The Clinton spot is airing for a week in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. The total buy is only $100,000.

“She's spending by comparison over the same period of time about $2 million in Nevada and Arizona. But what that tells us again is that she has the resources and she certainly has the resources to make us talk about things that frankly the Trump campaign wishes we weren't talking about,” Engel said. “The fact that she is spending anything in Texas is a shock.”

Clinton's political message to Texas is she wants to be the president for everyone -- even in states that aren't blue and that she feels the election is hers to win.

“Because if she has resources to spend in a place that she A) isn’t likely to win and B) doesn’t need to win, that tells us that she has enough money, they figure, to win the places they need,” Engel said.

Early voting in Texas starts on Monday, Oct. 24. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

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