The final polls for the Texas Senate race show something once unthinkable to political experts — Democrat Beto O’Rourke with a real chance of unseating Ted Cruz.
The race for the Texas Senate seat was considered a safe one for Republicans as campaigning began earlier this year, but O’Rourke has steadily been building his stature both in the state and nationally, and the final polls before Election Day show that he is now within striking distance of Cruz. As the Washington Examiner reported, O’Rourke had pulled into a statistical tie with Cruz in one of the final polls before voters head to the polls on Tuesday.
The Emerson University poll showed that Cruz was ahead of O’Rourke by 3 percentage points, putting the race within the 3.7 percent margin of error. The race is still expected to tilt toward Cruz, who led in the poll 50 percent to 47 percent and has been ahead in all major polling, but the late movement has been toward O’Rourke.
Though O’Rourke has pulled in more than $70 million in campaign contributions and attracted a nationwide following as he takes on one of the more unpopular members of the Senate, his campaign style is decidedly low-tech. As the New Yorker reported, O’Rourke’s campaign has been fueled more by shoe leather than big donors.
“Since he started running for the Senate, O’Rourke has made personal appearances in each of the two hundred and fifty-four counties in Texas, including the reddest and the bluest ones,” the report noted. “During the past eleven days of early voting, he has been making as many as eight or nine stops a day within a single metropolitan area.”
Many on the left have pinned their hopes on Beto O’Rourke in the long-shot bid to win the Senate back from Republicans. It is a difficult proposition for Democrats, who have more vulnerable seats to defend than chances to take seats from Republicans, and the polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight noted that polls are not on the side of the Democrats. Analyst Nate Silver — one of the few who gave Donald Trump a real chance of winning the 2016 election — said it would take a systematic polling error that underestimates Democrats across all races in order for them to win.
While that may be a long shot, the final polls in the Texas Senate race at least show that Beto O’Rourke will have a chance of unseating Ted Cruz. Experts say it will all come down to which side can turn out voters better.