The Houston Chronicle’s endorsement of President Joe Biden is a significant political development given Texas’ status as a conservative stronghold. In an editorial, the Chronicle’s board praised Biden’s economic, health, and foreign policies while lambasting former President Donald Trump. The endorsement indicates Biden’s political strength going into the 2024 election, though its impact remains unclear in solidly red Texas.

The Houston Chronicle Breaks Tradition with Biden Endorsement

Given Texas’s traditionally conservative leanings, the Houston Chronicle’s recent endorsement of President Joe Biden surprised many. However, the editorial board cited the administration’s achievements and Biden’s experience as reasons for their support.

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The endorsement provoked outrage from conservatives, who see the economy as weak and the border as in crisis. Critics mocked the decision on social media, with one talk show host joking that he loved “this parody account for the Houston Chronicle.” However, for Biden supporters, the unlikely endorsement signals hope that even traditionally red states may be open to progressive policies and governance.

Why the Endorsement Matters in Solidly Red Texas

The Houston Chronicle’s endorsement of President Joe Biden carries weight despite the state’s strong conservative leanings. As Texas’ largest newspaper, The Houston Chronicle has significant influence over public opinion in the region. Its editorial board praised Biden for his administration’s accomplishments thus far and for providing “a viable alternative” to former President Donald Trump.

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While Biden’s approval ratings have declined nationwide, his economic policies have benefitted Texans. The U.S. economy has recovered robustly from the pandemic under Biden’s leadership, with unemployment approaching a 50-year low and inflation slowing.

Highlighting Biden’s Economic Achievements

The Houston Chronicle’s editorial board highlighted several of President Biden’s major economic achievements that influenced their decision to endorse him for re-election. According to the editorial, the U.S. economy has recovered faster than other advanced nations following the COVID-19 pandemic. The board noted that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan helped accelerate the nation’s economic recovery.

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While highlighting Biden’s key achievements, the board acknowledged that his administration has faced significant challenges and shortcomings. They criticized Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan as “calamitous” and said his administration has failed to address issues like immigration reform.

The Chronicle’s Praise for Biden’s Foreign Policy

The Houston Chronicle praised Biden’s policies on the global stage, citing his handling of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and pursuit of peace in the Middle East. Biden has rallied Western allies to counter Putin’s aggression in Ukraine through sanctions and by providing military aid to Ukraine. At the same time, the Biden administration has pursued diplomacy to reduce tensions between Israel and Palestine.

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The board acknowledged the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan represented a significant failure that undercut allies and emboldened adversaries. However, they contended that Biden’s foreign policy record indicates steady leadership that has restored America’s standing on the global stage.

Where the Editorial Board Says Biden Has Fallen Short

The editorial board noted that the Biden administration has so far failed to address the disorder effectively at the U.S. border with Mexico. It contended that the administration alone does not deserve blame for this issue; however, it pointed out that cynical supporters of the former president in the House obstructed a bipartisan border security plan developed in the Senate.

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In addition to his shortcomings, the board acknowledged that President Biden, at 82 years of age, may lack the vitality and eloquence that characterized his earlier years in public service. However, the board suggested that despite any diminution in his faculties, President Biden retains a wealth of knowledge and experience far surpassing his presumed Republican opponent in 2024.

The GOP Backlash Against the Surprising Endorsement

The endorsement infuriated Trump supporters, who denounced the board as “untethered from reality.” Steve Guest, a former spokesperson for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), claimed, “The economy is a mess, our country is being invaded, and the border is wide open, and the world is on fire” due to Biden’s policies.

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Talk show host Joe Pagliarulo mockingly called The Houston Chronicle a “parody account.” Comedian Tim Young suggested filling The Houston Chronicle’s office with “illegal immigrants” since they “endorse” it. Robert Bowlin questioned whether the board “cares that Biden can barely speak.”

Can the Endorsement Move the Needle for Democrats in Texas?

The Houston Chronicle’s endorsement of Joe Biden for re-election in 2024 has angered Republicans in Texas but may boost Democrats in the traditionally conservative state. As the largest newspaper in Texas with a circulation of over 360,000, The Houston Chronicle’s backing carries significant influence.

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With its large circulation and influence, The Houston Chronicle’s backing is a win for Biden’s re-election bid. However, flipping Texas’s 38 electoral college votes will require broadening his appeal beyond newspaper editorial boards. Biden must demonstrate how his policies benefit Texans and the nation to overcome ingrained Republican loyalties in the Lone Star State.

What This Means for Biden’s Re-Election Prospects

The Houston Chronicle’s endorsement of President Biden provides a small boost to his re-election prospects in 2024. However, some analysts remain skeptical about the endorsement’s impact in Texas’ reliably Republican electorate.

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Historically, major newspaper endorsements had the potential to influence voters and boost a candidate’s chances. Their ability to sway opinions has diminished in today’s polarized political climate. Nonetheless, the Chronicle’s praise highlights some of Biden’s successes that resonate with voters.

Democrats Still Have Some Sway in Texas

The Chronicle’s backing demonstrates that Biden retains appeal among certain moderates and independents. To win them over in 2024, Biden must convince voters that his presidency has brought stability and prosperity. He needs to reclaim control of the narrative, emphasizing economic gains, legislative victories, and a return to normalcy after a traumatic period.

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A successful second half of his term could position him well for re-election, even without Texas. Still, if Biden aims to make the state competitive, endorsements from prominent Texas institutions like the Houston Chronicle would boost his prospects. Their support suggests an opening exists to win over more centrist and independent voters if Biden can strengthen his case for another four years.

A Rare Boost for Team Blue

The Houston Chronicle’s endorsement of President Biden offers a rare Democratic boost in a historically red state. While Texas has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in nearly fifty years, the editorial board makes a case for Biden’s achievements and contrasts his tenure with the “chaos, corruption and danger” of another Trump term.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Texas Democratic Party

However, it remains to be seen whether this endorsement from a major Texas newspaper will make any meaningful difference in a state that still leans conservative. Ultimately, the board lays out Biden’s case for re-election while acknowledging he is an imperfect president who has faced setbacks and criticism.