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Cook Political Report moves Texas to "toss up" in presidential race

Cook Political Report moved Texas from "lean Republican" to "toss up" for the 2020 presidential race on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Texas, which has 38 electoral votes, hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976. A win for Biden in the historically red state would likely be a knockout blow against Trump.


The big picture: Polling over the last few months has suggested that Texas, due in part to its changing demographics, has become increasingly favorable for Democrats.

  • Hillary Clinton lost Texas by 800,000+ votes in 2016, but former Rep. Beto O'Rourke lost to Sen. Ted Cruz by around 215,000 votes in the 2018 Senate race.
  • Biden campaign surrogates, including Sen. Kamala Harris this Friday, have visited the state on several occasions. But Texas Democrats are still urging the campaign to pour more money into the state — pleas that Biden has so far rebuffed.

What to watch: "To win the election, Trump will need to win every state we currently have in the Toss Up column: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Iowa, Ohio, Maine's 2nd [congressional district], as well as the newest addition, Texas. Even then, Trump would be 22 electoral votes short of 270," Cook Political Report writes.

Between the lines: Texas has seen record early voting turnout, a trend that has been apparent across the country. Early voting turnout in Texas has already reached 91% of 2016's total voting participation in the state.

Worth noting: Despite Democratic challenger MJ Hegar significantly out-raising Sen. John Cornyn last quarter, the Texas Senate race remains "Leans Republican" on Cook Political Report.

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution could bar Trump from holding office again

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Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

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Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.

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Apple's quarterly sales top $100 billion for first time

Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple reported it took in a record $111 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, as the company crushed expectations.

Why it matters: The move showed even a pandemic didn't dull demand for Apple's latest smartphones.

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Facebook stock whipsaws amid ad targeting concerns

Facebook's stock showed volatility in after-hours trading Wednesday, despite adding users and beating on top and bottom lines.

Why it matters: Investors seem spooked by proposed changes to user data collection by Apple that would impact Facebook's ad business, in addition to perennial threats of new federal privacy regulations.

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Fed chair says low interest rates aren't driving stock market prices

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Why it matters: The statement comes amid unshakeable stock prices and a Reddit-fueled market frenzy — prompting widespread fears of a bubble and the role monetary policy has played in that.

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Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official told me.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

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Podcast: Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Collective.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).

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DHS warns of "heightened threat" because of domestic extremism

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."

Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence "will persist in the weeks." The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"

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