- Defending a Senate seat in Texas shouldn’t be that tough, yet here we are
- Ted Cruz is narrowly ahead of Democrat challenger Beto O’Rouke, who is running an unconventional and energetic campaign
- Can the Democratic newcomer paint Texas blue?
Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate in over 20 years. The Lone Star State favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by almost ten percentage points in 2016, and is widely regarded to be a reliable Republican stronghold.
So why is the Senate race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rouke so tight?
2018 US Senate Election Winner – Texas Odds
|2018 US Senate Election Winner – Texas||Bovada Odds|
Pollsters have shifted Texas’ rating from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican.” Some have even gone as far as labeling the race a “Tossup.” Ted Cruz has led his Democratic challenger since the start, but the latest polls now have him just 4.4% ahead. With two months of campaigning to go, there is still time for O’Rouke to close the gap or even surge ahead.
Pollsters have shifted Texas’ rating from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican.” Some have even gone as far as labeling the race a “Tossup.”
Even Ted Cruz’s former campaign spokesman has admitted that O’Rouke stands a very real chance, pointing out that the Democrat has out-fundraised Cruz by 2-to-1 without accepting a single dollar of PAC money. The situation has gotten so dire that Donald Trump, who once called Cruz’s wife ugly and suggested that his father played a role in JFK’s assassination, will fly to Texas to campaign for the ailing Senator.
The deck is still stacked against O’Rouke, who remains the underdog despite his growing momentum, but there are a few reasons for him to be optimistic.
I will be doing a major rally for Senator Ted Cruz in October. I’m picking the biggest stadium in Texas we can find. As you know, Ted has my complete and total Endorsement. His opponent is a disaster for Texas – weak on Second Amendment, Crime, Borders, Military, and Vets!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2018
The Changing Demographics of Texas
It’s hardly surprising that latino Americans are significantly less likely to vote Republican. That’s turning out to be a serious problem for the GOP as the growing Latino population in Texas rallies around O’Rouke and the Democratic Party.
“Beto” is a common Spanish nickname for “Roberto”, which O’Rouke adopted before kindergarten. He speaks fluent Spanish and cut his teeth representing Texas’ 16th, a Latino-majority district.
The big issue for the Democrats is turnout. If Beto O’Rouke can motivate minority voters to show up on election day, he’ll stand a great chance at unseating the incumbent.
Have a good chance to win Texas on Tuesday. Cruz is a nasty guy, not one Senate endorsement and, despite talk, gets nothing done. Loser!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2016
The Midterms Will Be A Referendum on Trump
Donald Trump’s nationwide approval rating hovers at around 40%. That should concern every Republican up for reelection in November. The midterms are never just about the two candidates; it’s also referendum on the President.
Trump will head to Texas next month to drum up support from his base, but that may ultimately backfire. The President spent the entire 2016 Primary calling Cruz a liar, and Cruz continued campaigning long after he stood no chance of winning. Then, at the convention, he refused to endorse Trump.
Why would the people of Texas support Ted Cruz when he has accomplished absolutely nothing for them. He is another all talk, no action pol!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2016
The Opposition Usually Outperforms During Midterms
The Democrats were famously demolished in the Midterms under Obama — twice!
It’s expected that the party in power will lose ground during the midterms. The energy is usually with the opposition, and so the Democrats will have an easier time convincing their voters to show up at the polls. Especially now, when Democrats are united in their hatred of Donald Trump and eager to resist the administration’s policies, it is paramount that they turn out for their party.
Donald Trump has an extremely loyal following in Texas, where they haven’t had a Democrat Senator or Governor in two decades.
Donald Trump does have an extremely loyal following, though. Especially in Texas, where they haven’t had a Democrat Senator or Governor in two decades, that may be enough.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
People Just Don’t Like Ted Cruz
They just don’t like him. It’s really that simple. Democrats definitely don’t like him, but that’s to be expected. The truly surprising thing is that Republicans dislike him just as much. John Boehner called him “Lucifer in the flesh,” John McCain called him a “wacko bird,” and we all know what Trump has said about him.
Ted Cruz is a remarkably weak candidate buoyed by a deep-red electorate. A young, charismatic candidate like Beto O’Rouke is well-positioned to paint Texas blue.
Pick: Beto O’Rouke (+140)
Despite all this, let’s not forget that this is still Texas we’re talking about. Beto O’Rouke faces an uphill battle against a GOP that still has a pretty strong grip on the Texas electorate and is desperate to cling onto the Senate. At +140, Bovada is giving O’Rouke a 42% chance of winning, which sounds about right. O’Rouke only needs to make up four percentage points by November, but he’ll have to fight tooth and nail for every bit of remaining ground.