Ted Cruz has all the advantages in tomorrow’s election for the US Senate. Texas is so staunchly conservative that a Democratic presidential candidate has not carried the state of Texas for 42 years. None has won election in the senatorial or gubernatorial elections in 28 years. Cruz has made a career out of being a conservative conservative. One of the leading members of the Tea Party movement in Texas, Cruz won the senatorial Republican primary by defeating popular Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and would later win election to the U.S. Senate. As the 2016 Republican presidential primaries began, Cruz emerged as a legitimate contender for the nomination as the most conservative candidate in a crowded field. His political aspirations had nearly reached their apex.
Then along came Donald Trump. Trump had absolutely no connection to conservatives outside of his wealth and business acumen. Cruz publicly labeled Trump an “utterly amoral” pathological liar. Yet Trump’s career as a real estate mogul and reality television star augmented his personality under the limelight, while Cruz withered. Trump’s bravado and bluster silenced Cruz’s lawyerly argumentations, and Trump connected on a personal level with working-class Republican voters while Cruz appeared slick, spoiled, and aloof. Donald Trump crushed Ted Cruz in the primary and ascended to the presidency in one of the most improbable election victories in American history.
Two years later, Beto O’Rourke is using a different version of the same formula to take on Cruz. According to NBC, O’Rourke is an unabashed liberal who refuses to come to the center, and should have no chance in the deep-red state of Texas. However, he has a high-energy style that consistently exudes positivity, and his winning personality lies in stark contrast to Cruz, who continues to suffer from an unrelatable (and perhaps even unlikeable) public persona. O’Rourke has largely shunned negative advertising and contributions from political action committees, and his policy stances make him favorable to urban liberals, millennials, and the state’s large Hispanic population, which continues to push toward a majority. O’Rourke is using his contagious enthusiasm and unifying rhetoric to build extraordinary support for a Texas Democrat and separate himself from Cruz on a personal level to dramatically close the political gap between them.
Someone out there is clearly concerned, as a flood of fake Twitter accounts have been circulating the same anti-O’Rourke message tonight:
Chances remain slim that O’Rourke can unseat Cruz. The latest poll on Real Clear Politics shows Cruz with a six-point lead. However, Cruz led by as many as 12 points early in the campaign and the Emerson poll shows Cruz with only a three-point lead as of tonight. Texas also had a record 4.5 million voters participate in early voting, which many experts consider a good sign for O’Rourke. Should Beto O’Rourke defeat the highly favored Ted Cruz to win election to the U.S. Senate tomorrow, it would be an upset not unlike one that we saw in 2016.