As Beto O’Rourke prepares for the 2018 mid-term elections he’s facing an increasingly uphill battle against Ted Cruz ahead of Tuesday’s debate, the second such meeting for the two politicians.
Recent polling data shows that O’Rourke is slipping as Cruz continues to gain momentum in his re-election bid.
The polls arrive at a time when O’Rourke has massively outraised his opponent, setting a Senate fund-raising record with $38 million in the third quarter. Cruz has raised three times less money than his Liberal challenger.
A recent CNN poll shows Cruz with a 52 percent to 45 percent lead in the Texas race.
It was already clear that Beto O’Rourke was fighting an uphill battle. Texans have refused to nominate a single Democratic Senator in the previous three decades leading up to the November 6 election.
O’Rourke has become a favorite among many Democratic supporters because of his strong promise to create a path toward citizenship for immigrants, his opposition to Trump’s border wall, and his focus on sensible gun-control.
The crucial Senate seat will be thrust into the spotlight on Monday when President Trump heads to Houston to hold a rally in support of his fellow Republican.
Unlike many of his Democratic counterparts, O’Rourke has not shied away from publicly blasting his opponent. He has regularly pointed to Cruz’s support of Trump’s trade war, which by most accounts will continue to hurt the U.S. economy in the months and years ahead, including Ford Motors which recently announced it will be forced to prepare massive layouts after losing $1 billion because of Trump’s tariff policies. Cruz has also laid into Cruz for supporting massive deportations and Trump’s zero-tolerance policy which has torn children away from their parents.
Cruz and O’Rourke squared off last month in Dallas and since that time Brett Kavanaugh was thrust into the national spotlight and nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, a move that has likely energized the large Conservative base in Texas.
O’Rourke joined his Democratic counterparts in demanding a full FBI investigation into Kavanaugh’s sexual assault allegations. It’s quite possible that voters may feel that O’Rourke, for a short time, abandoning his main messaging which was resonating with moderates and younger voters in the state.
Republican attacks against O’Rourke have already started to heat up with Donald Trump Jr. calling him “an Irish guy pretending to be Hispanic.” In true Trump Jr. fashion, the comment was ended with a sly remark.
What’s authentic about an Irish guy pretending to be Hispanic? Asking for some friends Texas. https://t.co/c30OjHdN8j
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 15, 2018
Beto will need to focus on the issues that matter to his constituents during today’s debate while at the same time, ensuring Texans that he has their best interests at heart.
The debate, which airs at 9 p.m. ET will require O’Rourke to place Cruz on the offensive. Keep in mind that the incumbent was a champion debater at Princeton University. Love or hate him, Cruz knows how to go on the offensive as he did during their first debate.
The debate could also come down to a focus on culture over policy. During the first debate, Cruz was able to expertly align O’Rourke with unpopular voter issues in the deeply red state. O’Rourke will need to focus in on pre-existing conditions policies which the GOP is attempting to destroy while pigeon footing around more broad issues such as gun control, voter right’ss, and other sensitive topics that could send conservative voters to the polls in favor of Cruz. It’s less about policy and more about people and that messaging can become easily muddled.
O’Rourke will also need to prove that his stance on foreign policy will provide more global stability. Cruz was a big supporter of Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran deal while O’Rourke said he would have preferred a stronger “international effort” to stabilize relations. With Trump’s attacks against the United Nations, NATO, and other global organizations, O’Rourke’s messaging about fostering international relations will foreign governments could go either way. The question is whether or not Texans care enough about those global issues at this point in time.
O’Rourke could focus in on Cruz’s rampant support of Trump while focusing on North Korea, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Despite massive accounts of fraud, murder, and general meddling, Cruz has continued to stand by Trump, even as the 45th POTUS praises the very governments who have promised to do harm to America and who have already engaged in deceitful acts against our country.
Ted Cruz is also likely to voice his full support for Kavanaugh, a deeply conservative Supreme Court justice that will likely vote in favor of conservative issues. If Texas voters believe Kavanaugh aligns with their cultural beliefs, O’Rourke could be in for an even steeper uphill fight.
In the end, O’Rourke is facing an uphill battle in a state that has long voted for Republican Senators. If he pulls off a win, it could signal big problems ahead for Trump. Even a close race could leave Trump with a bad taste in his mouth as he prepares for his 2020 re-election bid.
Tune in at 9 p.m. ET tonight to watch Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz face off in their second debate.
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James Kosur is the former Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of Hill Reporter. He recently served as an editor for Business Insider and various other publications. James and his partners sold Hill Reporter to a new owner in July 2019.