Pharr Memorial Day: Large Leaderboard

With Election Day now only a few weeks away, the race between incumbent Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has attracted national and international attention.

For Cruz, a star in national conservative politics, losing to O’Rourke would be a particularly bitter pill. Cruz rose to prominence during the heyday of the Tea Party, and was the last man standing against Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. He’s being challenged by a magnetic candidate embraced by both Texas and national Democrats – and, it’s fair to say, an adoring press.

So can O’Rourke defeat Cruz?

We’ve conducted public opinion polls throughout Cruz’s electoral career as principals in the most frequent statewide political poll in Texas, the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, and we’ve worked closely with statewide election data. Even if O’Rourke manages to increase Democratic turnout beyond reasonable expectations, it is very unlikely he can overcome the structural obstacles he faces in Cruz’s existing advantages.

O’Rourke’s challenge, by the numbers


One poll in the late summer found that 15 percent of likely Republican voters said that they’ll cast a vote for O’Rourke. Otherpolls have found the size of the pool of potential Republican defectors closer to 6 percent. We believe the 15 percent figure is likely an outlier, especially considering there’s little evidence that GOP voters in Texas have soured on President Donald Trump. The estimate of 6 percent is more consistent with the current level of partisan polarization in Texas and the rest of the country.

We can use these poll results to estimate potential 2018 vote shares based on turnout data from recent midterm elections.

The average number of Republican votes in gubernatorial and midterm Senate races in 2010 and 2014 has been about 2.8 million, according to records kept by the Texas Secretary of State. The average Democratic vote total in those races has been approximately 1.9 million. In other words, historical results suggest approximately 900,000 more Republican voters than Democratic voters in the average midterm election.

A hypothetical defection of 6 percent of Republican votes to O’Rourke subtracts about 168,000 votes from the average GOP vote total.

Even if we were to assume that all of these Republican voters fled to O’Rourke – as opposed to just staying home – that would leave Cruz ahead by approximately 564,000 votes. Could Democrats increase turnout enough to close that gap?

It would be an uphill battle, with hopes of victory resting on mobilizing groups with historically low turnout levels in midterm elections, such as young voters and Democratic-leaning Latinos. Exit polls for recent elections illustrate just how difficult this has been in recent history. Latinos, for example, made up only 17 percent of the electorate in 2014. In that year, nearly half of Latino voters backed the Republican candidate, and the Democrat lost by 20 percentage points.

But let’s imagine that O’Rourke manages to mobilize an additional 20 percent to the baseline Democratic vote – an optimistic estimate for O’Rourke. That would add another 380,000 votes to the Democrat’s total – still short of Cruz’s projected vote total by 184,000 votes.

Those numbers predict a closer race than usual – but one that Cruz still ends up winning.

Can Ted Cruz stay the course?


The task before Cruz is both simpler and easier to achieve.

Cruz needs to sustain historical levels of GOP turnout in order to absorb a potential uptick in Democratic turnout. This requires recognizing and combating both the possibilities of GOP defections to O’Rourke and of GOP voters declining to show up.

The recent salvo of Cruz ads and social media, as well as Cruz’s approach in the candidates’ first debate, have negatively portrayed O’Rourke’s progressive policy positions on issues like border security and racial justice as dangerously outside the mainstream. In their first debate, when a moderator asked the candidates to say something positive about each other, Cruz used the opportunity to praise O’Rourke for being passionate, energetic and sincere in his beliefs – while asserting that those beliefs were “socialism,” complete with a Bernie Sanders name check. Cruz’s critics attacked him for red-baiting, but the message was no doubt received loud and clear by Republicans watching the debate or reading the media coverage the following day.

While this may make Cruz seem like “a jerk,” to some, this approach is designed to mobilize the voters he needs to get re-elected. Expect to see a lot more of the same through Nov. 6.

Democrats and credulous reporters talk of blue waves – that is, a significant uptick in Democratic turnout. They see destiny in demographics, believing that the increase in the Latino share of the Texas population ensures a Democratic resurgence. However, we predict Cruz and other GOP incumbents will likely survive one more election cycle in Texas. If there is a whiff of desperation to Cruz’s strategy, it may be an indicator that the comfortable margins of victory assumed by Republicans for the last decade are eroding, albeit much more slowly, and less decisively, than Democrats hope.

Editor’s Note: This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Click here to read the original.

IBC: Large Leaderboard

3 COMMENTS

  1. Again the Rio Grande Guardian pushes its Conservative goals by performing mathematical magic with smoke and mirrors. This entire article was written to persuade Democrat voters that Cruz is already elected and they might as well stay home. Don’t believe it. go to the polls, VOTE !! No matter who you support!!!

    • Hola Ned ! I have been giving away fact-filled flyers and I am amazed at how many Latinos just do not care or get how bad things will be if repulbicans ‘own’ our government and this was before Kavanaugh. Please, read my fact-filled flyer. It is based on information from several web sites. Texas is in # 8 place in Economy; however Texas is # 46 in Quality of life – just go around Hidalgo County and you see how poor our infrastructure is – streets, sidewalks, parks, bike/walk trails , schooling, etc. etc… Texas is # 38 in Education – republikkkans politicians are holding our taxes at state level and we are paying at local level with our property taxes 75% to local education. Texas is # 38 in Healthcare and it is because republiKKKans , Ted Cruz one of them DO NOT WANT YOU TO HAVE AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE but we are paying for theirs and their families!!!

      PLEASE, READ MY FLYER:

      TEXANS WAKE UP !! There are 4.8 million eligible Latino voters in Texas and less than 28 voters -out of 100- are expected to vote in the November 6, 2018 mid-term elections. After 24 years of Texas republican governors, this is what we have in return:

      Texas is a # 8 economy and Texas governors do not want to give money to our schools, healthcare, infrastructure, etc. Texas has a rich oil-based economy and we should be #1 on everything !! What is wrong?? Texas State republican politicians are keeping our money for themselves and keeping our families without economic help.
      Texas is:
      # 46 in Quality of Life.
      # 37 in Education.
      # 38 in Health care.
      # 47 in Employment and Business Opportunities.

      DO REPUBLICANS NEED MORE YEARS TO TAKE US TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL?

      Also, republicans at federal level want to take away your Social Security and Medicare when you retire. Texas State republican government are leaving us at the bottom of everything!! VOTE DEMOCRATS ALL THE WAY !! What will take to bring and mobilize the Latino voters on Tuesday, 11/06/2018?

      In 2016, only 46% of Young Millennials (1981-1995) voted, while 72% of Senior Boomers (1946 to 1964) did. We can do better than this !! BE SMART. DO NOT LET PEOPLE- who will be gone soon- VOTE FOR YOUR FUTURE!!

      Check if you are registered to vote before 10/08/2018, it is your last day to register. Call Hidalgo County Election Department 956–318-2570 Please, Google this page: http://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/texas

      ***** WARNING !! There will also be ALL OVER HIDALGO COUNTY ( County, 25 Cities, 15 Districts, 25 Schools Districts, etc.) PROPERTY TAX INCREASES IN YOUR VOTING BALLOTS. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO PAY MORE PROPERTY TAXES OR YOUR RENT, VOTE NO ON ALL THESE PROPERTY TAX INCREASES !!

  2. TEXANS WAKE UP !! There are 4.8 million eligible Latino voters in Texas and less than 28 voters -out of 100- are expected to vote in the November 6, 2018 mid-term elections. After 24 years of Texas republican governors, this is what we have in return:
    Texas is a # 8 economy and Texas governors do not want to give money to our schools, healthcare, infrastructure, etc. Texas has a rich oil-based economy and we should be #1 on everything !! What is wrong?? Texas State republican politicians are keeping our money for themselves and keeping our families without economic help.
    Texas is:
    # 46 in Quality of Life.
    # 37 in Education.
    # 38 in Health care.
    # 47 in Employment and Business Opportunities.
    DO REPUBLICANS NEED MORE YEARS TO TAKE US TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL?
    Also, republicans at federal level want to take away your Social Security and Medicare when you retire. Texas State republican government are leaving us at the bottom of everything!! VOTE DEMOCRATS ALL THE WAY !! What will take to bring and mobilize the Latino voters on Tuesday, 11/06/2018?
    In 2016, only 46% of Young Millennials (1981-1995) voted, while 72% of Senior Boomers (1946 to 1964) did. We can do better than this !! BE SMART. DO NOT LET PEOPLE- who will be gone soon- VOTE FOR YOUR FUTURE!!
    Check if you are registered to vote before 10/08/2018, it is your last day to register. Call Hidalgo County Election Department 956–318-2570 Source: http://www.usnews.com/news/best-st...
    ***** WARNING !!

    There will also be ALL OVER HIDALGO COUNTY ( County, 25 Cities, 15 Districts, 25 Schools Districts, etc.) PROPERTY TAX INCREASES IN YOUR VOTING BALLOTS.

    IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO PAY MORE PROPERTY TAXES OR YOUR RENT, VOTE NO ON ALL THESE PROPERTY TAX INCREASES !!