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

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

Posted: Aug 26, 2018 9:13 AM
Updated: Aug 26, 2018 9:13 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

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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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 304023

Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin641421113
Ramsey27059502
Anoka21526225
Dakota21268190
Washington13529113
Stearns13524108
St. Louis8433108
Scott820154
Wright746139
Olmsted653534
Sherburne570941
Clay483956
Carver455913
Blue Earth405214
Rice403136
Kandiyohi396821
Crow Wing353431
Nobles304929
Chisago304410
Otter Tail300522
Benton293348
Winona273730
Mower257423
Douglas250735
Polk248923
Morrison228029
Lyon213411
Beltrami211917
McLeod205011
Becker199815
Goodhue196728
Steele19137
Itasca185523
Isanti184917
Todd178413
Carlton177715
Nicollet158725
Freeborn15125
Mille Lacs149931
Le Sueur144911
Cass138610
Waseca137811
Brown136415
Pine13138
Meeker12398
Roseau11454
Hubbard111924
Martin111220
Wabasha10301
Redwood91619
Chippewa8527
Dodge8380
Cottonwood8333
Watonwan8334
Renville83124
Wadena7736
Sibley7724
Rock7569
Aitkin75529
Pipestone71018
Houston6854
Fillmore6770
Yellow Medicine63311
Pennington6277
Kanabec59613
Murray5783
Swift5758
Faribault5422
Pope5281
Stevens5063
Clearwater5058
Jackson4841
Marshall4758
Lake4066
Koochiching3855
Wilkin3715
Unassigned36759
Lac qui Parle3613
Lincoln3511
Norman3417
Big Stone3072
Mahnomen2904
Grant2726
Kittson2138
Red Lake2053
Traverse1461
Lake of the Woods951
Cook660

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 225897

Reported Deaths: 2345
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33451334
Linn14206164
Scott1116385
Black Hawk10849134
Woodbury10323124
Johnson948636
Dubuque918291
Story677621
Dallas633657
Pottawattamie624570
Sioux369125
Webster357833
Cerro Gordo351544
Marshall347846
Clinton327540
Buena Vista304114
Des Moines287920
Muscatine286468
Warren279611
Plymouth274242
Wapello255071
Jones229813
Jasper217443
Marion204320
Lee202217
Carroll197322
Bremer194212
Henry18227
Crawford174316
Benton169519
Tama153840
Jackson144313
Delaware143221
Washington140214
Dickinson138210
Boone136311
Mahaska126727
Wright12336
Clay11714
Buchanan116410
Hardin115010
Page11294
Clayton11105
Hamilton11059
Cedar107413
Harrison106729
Calhoun10617
Kossuth10566
Floyd104116
Mills10407
Fayette103310
Lyon10268
Butler10116
Poweshiek98913
Winneshiek96212
Iowa94612
Winnebago91723
Hancock8607
Louisa85816
Sac8578
Grundy85611
Chickasaw8494
Cherokee8374
Cass80823
Allamakee79911
Mitchell7884
Appanoose78710
Humboldt7695
Union7676
Shelby76211
Emmet76024
Guthrie75215
Franklin73521
Jefferson7112
Madison6804
Unassigned6620
Palo Alto6514
Keokuk5967
Pocahontas5574
Howard5529
Greene5220
Osceola5211
Ida48713
Clarke4824
Taylor4643
Montgomery46211
Davis4619
Monroe44312
Adair4408
Monona4332
Fremont3573
Van Buren3555
Worth3550
Lucas3236
Decatur3160
Wayne2987
Audubon2952
Ringgold2112
Adams1692
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