Establishment Republicans and movement conservatism appear to be in trouble in Texas. Polls indicate that left-wing Democrat Beto O’Rourke is within striking range of conservative bad boy Ted Cruz (R) in a U.S. Senate Race.
Cruz, the incumbent Senator, is still winning the polling, but he’s just 6.5 points ahead of O’Rourke, Real Clear Politics average of polls indicates. Particularly worrying for Republicans is a Texas Lyceum survey that found Cruz just 2.5 points ahead of O’Rourke, a leftist Congressman from El Paso.
Real Clear calculated that Cruz would get 46.5% of the vote and O’Rourke 40%. That would be a solid win, but it is a significant drop from 2012, when Cruz won by 56.6%.
If the polls are accurate Republicans have lost 10.1% of Texas’s vote in six years. If the trend continues, a Democratic victory in Texas is a realistic possibility in 2024.
Interestingly, Democrats’ performance has not improved since 2012; instead Cruz’s has gotten worse. The percentage Real Clear gives O’Rourke is close to the 40.5% of the vote Democrat Paul Sadler won in 2012.
Therefore, claims of Democrat gains in Texas appear to be exaggerated. Another possibility is that more mainstream Democrat might win a bigger victory in Texas.
Although at least one poll, the Texas Lyceum found Cruz and O’Rourke close to a tie. Lyceum calculated that Cruz would get 41% of the vote compared to O’Rourke’s 39%. The other polls all had Cruz six to seven points or even 10 points ahead of O’Rourke.
What is happening in Texas?
The numbers indicate that Republicans are not less popular in Texas; Ted Cruz is, and so by inference are conservatives.
A strong probability is that a more moderate or mainstream Republican might do far better in the Lone Star State. Voters seem to be rejecting movement conservatism as they did in the 2016 Presidential election. Cruz was one of several doctrinaire conservatives Donald J. Trump easily bested in the Republican primary.
Another possibility is that voters are punishing Cruz for failing to endorse Trump until late in the 2016 campaign and aggressively attacking the Donald in the primaries. This means an O’Rourke win might bizarrely be a victory for Trump.
The Political Upheaval Continues
The Texas polls indicate that the political upheaval that began in 2016 is continuing and spreading.
Cruz’s defeat would be a huge upset because Texas has not elected a Democrat to the Senate in over 30 years. The last Democrat elected to the Senate from Texas was Lloyd Bentson in 1988.
There are definitely echoes of the 2016 presidential race in the Texas Senate contest. Voters are uncomfortable with both candidates. They dislike the status quo namely Cruz, but they’re unsure about the challenger O’Rourke. In 2016, votes were uncomfortable with Hillary Clinton (D-New York) but distrustful of Donald J. Trump (R-New York).
Trump won, possibly because voters decided to take a chance on the new devil rather than the one they were familiar with. A similar dynamic might play out for O’Rourke in Texas.
This Democrat is learning from Trump
Like Trump, O’Rourke is a weird candidate who is running a decidedly unconventional campaign. O’Rourke is an Irish American pretending to be a Mexican.
O’Rourke is refusing the help of traditional campaign consultants and strategists. Instead, like Trump he’s relying heavily on social media which he uses to stay in constant contact with voters. Tellingly, O’Rourke’s only TV commercial was reputedly shot on an i Phone.
Although he’s not taking any PAC money, O’Rourke’s fundraising was more than double Cruz’s. O’Rourke raised $10.4 million during 2nd Quarter 2018, while Cruz collected $4.6 million, The Texas Tribune calculated. That meant O’Rourke’s war chest was $14 million to Cruz’s $10 million.
This indicates Democrats now have the edge over Republicans in fundraising. The secret to this edge is Democrats’ ability to appeal to middle class voters who are capable of making lots of small donations. O’Rourke’s average contribution was $33.
That gives them more cash and makes Democrats less beholden to big-money donors. A clear advantage is that this will enable to Democrats to take popular stands that wealthy donors opposes. For example, Democrats are now free to promote single-payer healthcare and tax increases for the rich.
Only electoral results will tell if the extra money translates into victories. Republicans would be well advised to emulate the small donor strategy in future races.
Is Texas Turning Purple?
Still the signs bode ill for the GOP in Texas, The Cook Political Report’s Jennifer E. Duffy moved the Lone Star State from “solid Republican” to “leans Republican.”
It looks as if Texas might be turning purple; that is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. A Purple Texas would be a real game changer.The Lone Star State had 28.3 million people in 2017, 38 Electoral College votes, and 36 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Texas is critical to Republicans, because it is the only high-population state they can consistently count on. Correspondingly without Texas, there would be no Republican majority in the House, and no serious chance of the GOP winning a presidential election.
We might see major Democratic gains in Texas in two or four years. Particularly, if the Hispanic population grows and white Baby Boomers die off. This might occur as early as 2020, 2019 will be the first year that Millennials (those aged 20 to 35) will outnumber Baby Boomers (those aged 52 to 70) in the United States, Pew research projected.
Watch Texas closely, if Ted Cruz goes down it indicates a paradigm shift in American politics is in full swing. The solid Republican South is dying, which will provide an opening for Democrats (particularly those with Hispanic surnames).
A strong possibility is that Cruz; who has been pretending to be a WASP, will suddenly rediscover his Cuban heritage and learn to speak Spanish between now and Election Day. Ted will also begin wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and appearing regularly with the President.
One thing is obvious, voters want new leadership and they are willing to cross-party lines to get it. The Trump Revolution is far from over and it is likely to claim many more Republican victims.