Win or lose, Beto O'Rourke will help Texas Democrats

First things first: The theme song of the week is ...

Posted: Aug 26, 2018 10:13 AM
Updated: Aug 26, 2018 10:13 AM

First things first: The theme song of the week is Jet Set by Mike Vickers from the television show "Jackpot."

Poll of the week: A new Marist College poll shows Republican Sen. Ted Cruz with a 49% to 45% advantage over Democrat Rep. Beto O'Rourke (TX-16) in the Texas Senate race.

Beto O'Rourke

Government and public administration

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

US Democratic Party

US political parties

Ballots

Continents and regions

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Government organizations - US

North America

Southwestern United States

Ted Cruz

Texas

The Americas

United States

US Congress

US Federal elections

US House elections

US House of Representatives

US Senate

US Senate elections

Voters and voting

This is the latest poll that gives Cruz a small, but clear advantage in the contest. Cruz held a 6-point lead in the last Quinnipiac university poll, for example.

What's the point: Cruz is more likely than not going to win the Senate race in Texas. I've driven that point home many times, including in this column.

What I have not mentioned nearly enough, however, is how this contest is the first major Senate race to be competitive in Texas in a generation. Democrats haven't come within 10 points of winning either Texas seat since 1988.

Why does the closeness of the race matter if Cruz is probably going to win? It's all about driving turnout in the House races in the state, and it could help Democrats down-ballot.

If you look at the House map, there are arguably at least six Texas House races that are going to be competitive this fall. These include Texas 2nd, Texas 7th, Texas 21st, Texas 23rd, Texas 31st and Texas 32nd.

It's been shown in academic literature that states where there are competitive Senate races tend to have higher turnout in House races than states that don't (once you control for other factors).

Texas could use the turnout boost. With the exception of Hawaii, no other state had a lower turnout rate of its voter eligible population in 2016 than Texas. Just 52% of all eligible voters cast a ballot two years ago.

It's likely that this low turnout hurt Democrats in 2016. According to 2016 polling from Marist College, no other state polled in October or November had a greater difference between how all how registered voters and likely voters felt about then-President Barack Obama. This measure of partisanship showed that Obama's net approval rating (approval rating - disapproval rating) was 6 points lower among likely voters than registered voters.

Some of this difference is because registered voters in Texas are less white than those who actually end up casting a ballot. The share of the those who cast a ballot was 3 points more white than all registered voters in 2016, according to the government's Current Population Survey. That difference between registered voters and those who cast a ballot was tied for the highest in the nation.

In midterms, nonwhite voters tend to be an even smaller part of the electorate than in a presidential year election. A competitive Senate race could help draw some of those non-midterm and non-2016 voters out to the ballot box to vote in House races.

Now, most of these House races are not occurring in the state's most diverse districts. Still, even in the whiter districts in Texas, there are a lot of nonwhites. All the competitive House races listed above have citizen age voting populations that are at least 30% non-white. Texas 23rd's district is nearly 70% non-white. Democrats ability to beat Republican Rep. Will Hurd in said district could hinge on whether enough non-traditional voters come out to vote for Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones.

I should say there is the potential that higher turnout could, in theory, hurt Democratic House candidates. Democratic voters are very motivated this year in a way Republicans aren't. A competitive Senate race could draw out Republican voters who might otherwise have sat home.

That said, Texas Democrats face such a deficit in voter turnout that anything that increases overall turnout is more likely to help them than it would in other states.

O'Rourke's ability to create even the appearance of a competitive race could help push a House Democrat or two over the finish line, who might otherwise might have fallen a little short.

West Lafayette
Few Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 75°
Kokomo
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 75°
Rensselaer
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 70°
Fowler
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 70°
Williamsport
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 73°
Crawfordsville
Broken Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 71°
Frankfort
Scattered Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 71°
Delphi
Overcast
74° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 74°
Monticello
Overcast
74° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 74°
Logansport
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 73°
Continued Comfortable Temperatures
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 69975

Reported Deaths: 3007
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15152724
Lake7222273
Elkhart468079
Allen3695160
St. Joseph322479
Hamilton2572104
Vanderburgh180013
Hendricks1796105
Cass17609
Johnson1674118
Porter121339
Clark112646
Tippecanoe112311
Madison87265
LaPorte85029
Howard82965
Kosciusko82412
Marshall75222
Bartholomew74947
Floyd72945
Monroe69930
Delaware66552
Dubois65512
Boone64946
Noble63829
Hancock63438
Jackson5564
LaGrange54910
Warrick54030
Shelby53027
Vigo52810
Grant51129
Dearborn47728
Morgan44034
Clinton3883
Henry36519
White34910
Montgomery34321
Wayne33710
Lawrence33227
Decatur32232
Harrison30422
Miami2602
Scott25210
Daviess25119
Greene24034
Putnam2348
Franklin23113
DeKalb2224
Jasper2162
Jennings21412
Gibson2044
Steuben2033
Ripley1947
Perry17212
Starke1707
Orange16424
Fayette1637
Posey1610
Wabash1613
Jefferson1532
Carroll1522
Fulton1502
Whitley1496
Wells1442
Knox1400
Tipton1266
Huntington1193
Washington1171
Spencer1163
Newton11410
Randolph1094
Clay1025
Adams842
Sullivan831
Jay820
Owen821
Rush804
Pulaski751
Brown701
Fountain642
Benton600
Blackford562
Ohio564
Pike500
Parke491
Vermillion470
Crawford440
Switzerland430
Martin420
Union330
Warren191
Unassigned0202

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events