One of the impacts COVID-19 may have on the general election is a potentially significant drop in turnout among college students. Univ. of Texas Interim President Jay Hartzell estimated roughly 40%-50% of the student body has opted for an online-only fall semester. While that does not necessarily mean they are not in Austin, or will not vote, it likely means far fewer of them will vote relative to two years ago.

Lower college-age turnout could impact close races across Texas, including potentially races at the statewide level. Younger voters tend to favor Democrats. Fewer of them voting likely hurts Democratic candidates.

For example, in 2018, we calculated that Rep. Erin Zwiener’s (D-Driftwood) margin in the eight precincts including and immediately adjacent to Texas State Univ. put her over the top. She lost the rest of the district.

New Polls: Morning Consult released the latest in its rolling poll of Texas voters, this time in the field July 24-August 2. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads President Trump, 47%-46%, which is within the poll’s ±2.0% margin of error. Last week, Biden led, 47%-45%, again within the poll’s margin of error, but decidedly different from its May poll, which showed Trump ahead, 50%-43%.

The current Morning Consult poll shows U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) leading Democratic challenger M.J. Hegar, 44%-38%. Cornyn’s lead among independents is narrower, 34%-31%, but 27% are undecided. As is typical with Morning Consult, no additional details or crosstabs were provided.

A Global Strategy Group poll shows the Senate race as much closer. Cornyn leads Hegar, 43%-42%, within its ±3.7% margin of error. Cornyn’s job performance rating is 57/40 despite a favorability rating of 38/37. Hegar leads Cornyn among Hispanic/Latino “likely 2000 general election voters,” 50%-27%.

CD4 open: Eighteen candidates have purchased booth space at the Hopkins County Regional Center for Saturday’s meeting of Republican county and precinct chairs, reported the Dallas Morning News’s Paul Cobler. The chairs will select nominee to replace former U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath) on the general election ballot. At least 20 candidates are believed to be seeking the nomination.

Meanwhile, the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek tweeted that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) would attend to advocate for Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco). Fallon is not up for re-election this year.

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