Midterm Election Texas Shootout

How Beto O'Rourke nearly turned Texas blue in 2018's midterm elections

The 2018 midterm election for the Senate seat in Texas proved to be one of the most poloraizing showdowns the state has seen in forty years. On November 6th, 2018 one of the most anticipated races in the nation came to a dramatic but, otherwise, predictable end. Famed Republican incumbent Ted Cruz successfully defended his Senate seat in an extremely close race against Democratic House challenger Beto O’ Rourke.

A Democrat has not held statewide office in the state of Texas since Governor Ann Richards’ gubernatorial loss to George W. Bush in 1994. This race quickly evolved from another secure incumbent formality to one of the most exciting contests in the nation. Ted Cruz won with a narrow margin of only three percentage points, the closest any Texas interparty race in over forty years [1]. The end results were 50.9% with 4,244,204 to Cruz and 48.3% with 4,024,777 for O’Rourke. Democrats have been galvanized by the possibility of a purple future in the historically red state.

As a well entrenched and well funded Republican candidate, Ted Cruz didn’t see O’Rourke as a threat until election day drew near. During his tenure in the House of Representatives, O’Rourke established himself as a palatable Democrat with views that catered to his progressive constituency without incensing the state’s primary base. He is the ideal combination of small business owner, gun rights advocate, and legal marijuana proponent to be well received by the slowly changing Texas electorate. The modern conservative orthodoxy seemed untouchable beyond the local level until O’Rourke entered the race with an impressive war chest outraising Cruz by $28,981,102 and outspending him by $25,266,264 [2]. O’Rourke’s loss invigorated the Democratic hopes of making Texas a potential swing state.



The vendetta here concerns the 2018 Texas Senate seat midterm election and the question of whether the Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke’s close contention against Republican Ted Cruz was beginner’s luck vs. blue wave. Some conservative commentators see this Democratic competition as a one-off stroke of luck created by animus towards the executive, while progressive groups see this as a sign that the red hold on Texas may not be as impregnable as previously assumed.

An all red painted Texas will live to see another term of statewide superiority, but this is a wake-up call to both parties. The Democrats have proven that marketing more moderate candidates focusing on national policy as opposed to engaging in identity politics can flip certain districts, though the changing demographics of the Texas electorate have had the greatest impact on turning the state purple, the Democratic strategy cannot be ignored. This midterm election race has shown that progressives have the tools and money to challenge conservative hardliners in their own backyard. In light of this, conservatives will undoubtedly be paying much closer attention to subsequent races to ensure that they can hold and even gain back lost ground for the 2020 elections.


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  1. “How the race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke became the closest in Texas in 40 years” The Texas Tribune, accessed November 12, 2018. https://www.texastribune.org/2018/11/09/ted-cruz-beto-orourke-closest-texas-race-40-years/
  2. “Sen. Ted Cruz” Open Secrets, accessed November 12, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/elections?cid=N00033085&cycle=2018



David Williams is a Los Angeles native who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from University of California, Santa Cruz. He has been interested in politics since his early childhood. During his undergraduate studies, he was a chief campaign intern for the Santa Cruz City School Board. He has undertaken independent studies in issues such as homelessness and university-level crime (bullying, etc.). His key areas of interest are: Higher Education, domestic legal policy, and Middle Class advocacy. He is a firm believer in a proper people representation and governmental accountability, and aspires to run for public office one day. He believes objectivity is paramount in productive political dialogues, and he hopes to bring that as a Policy Corner Writer for PVNN Inc.