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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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The humidity ramps up a bit more into Friday morning, and so will the heat. Temperatures will heat up a little more with heat index values climbing even more. There could be an isolated afternoon shower in spots, though most will stay dry. Rain chances increase some into the weekend as a tropical system approaches. But it now appears that many areas may dodge the heaviest rain.
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