Rep. Beto O’Rourke won Texas’s Democratic Senate primary Tuesday, as members of his party set their sights on turning the Lone Star State a thick color of blue.
O’Rourke came out on top in the three-way race to take on Sen. Ted Cruz, a conservative Republican who won the GOP primary and is expected to be re-elected in November despite a massive Democratic turnout so far this election year.
More than 885,000 people in Texas had voted early or by mail in the state’s most populous counties. The massive uptick in votes comprises a 50 percent increase from 2014, which marked the previous high of 592,000. Early numbers also show Democrats have come out in higher proportions than Republicans.
The Texas Secretary of State’s office noted March 3 that 465,000 people voted in the Democratic Primary in the state’s 15 largest counties, compared to just about 420,000 Republicans during that same time.
O’Rourke, who believes health care is human right and supports a ban on semi-automatic rifles, has held a double-digit lead against his opponents – Sema Hernandez and Edward Kimbrough — throughout the primary season.
While he has barreled through Democratic clutter, most analysis still consider him a long-shot to defeat Cruz — a recent Texas Politics Project poll found nearly 40 percent of Texas voters have never heard of O’Rourke. But President Donald Trump’s poor approval ratings in parts of the state could negatively effect Cruz, who ran an unsuccessful bid for president in 2016.
Trump’s job approval rating in the state stands at 39 percent among Texas adults, according to Gallup’s 2017 year-long average; nearly 54 percent disapprove of his performance. Cruz, meanwhile, got split reviews, with 40 percent approving and 41 percent disapproving.
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