Beto O’Rourke is bullish on the record turnout for early voting, going so far as to not only project victory, but also plan for his first term as senator.
“If this continues, we win,” O’Rourke said Friday after a rally in Lewisville. “I feel very good about our prospects, not just on Election Night, but on being able to deliver for the next six years that follow on every priority, from health care to education to immigration to criminal justice reform. Texas is going to be the leader that this country has been waiting for.”
The El Paso Democrat’s underdog campaign against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz hinges on an above-average turnout from Texas voters known for their apathy. Democratic Party voter turnout is usually low during midterm elections, which has resulted in a 24-year drought in statewide contests.
But over 12 days of early voting in this midterm, participation has crushed records, particularly in Dallas County, where O’Rourke needs an oversized turnout to beat Cruz.
He said Friday that he’s on the verge of making history.
“If North Texas continues to turn out in the record numbers that we’ve seen, shattering every midterm total for as long as we’ve been looking at them, in some cases rivaling presidential voter turnout, then we’re going to win this race,” O’Rourke said. “The best thing I can do is continue to be with the people of North Texas, just as we have been for almost the last two years.”
But Republicans, while impressed with O’Rourke’s effort, said the race is Cruz’s to lose. Historically there are more Republicans in the Texas electorate than Democrats.
“It’s a presidential-level turnout,” said Republican political consultant Bill Miller. “But for the last 24 years, voters in Texas, in midterms and presidential elections, have voted for Republicans. If you’re a Republican in a state that votes Republican constantly, more voters will help you.”
Miller conceded that O’Rourke, based on the early-voting numbers, would make the contest competitive, if not close.