What Ted Cruz Narrowly Beating Beto O'Rourke Reveals About Texas05:50
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Fox News announces U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as the winner over challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke during the Dallas County Republican Party election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 at The Statler Hotel in Dallas. (Jeffrey McWhorter/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Fox News announces U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as the winner over challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke during the Dallas County Republican Party election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 at The Statler Hotel in Dallas. (Jeffrey McWhorter/AP)

In one of the most talked about — and costly — races of the midterms, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas held on to his seat, beating out challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

The Democrat had been edging closer to Cruz in the polls ahead of Tuesday's election, and wound up losing by about 2 percentage points. For context, Cruz beat his Democratic opponent by about 16 points in 2012.

In his victory speech, Cruz said he realized that millions of people were inspired by his opponent. O'Rourke vowed in his concession speech to work with Cruz, and said the campaign "holds a very special place in the history of this country."

"It was closer than even the polls were suggesting it would be," says Sean Theriault, a professor in the department of government at the University of Texas Austin. "But what we're seeing is it's a good day for Democrats in Texas — it's not a great day of course, because that would be a Beto win. But it's a good day."

The result of the Cruz-O'Rourke race and other midterm contests in Texas points to the state becoming a "purple-ish-red" one, Theriault tells Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson and Robin Young.

Interview Highlights

On what the result means for Cruz

"He won, and that's what matters most to him. I mean, if he had lost ... his political career I think in essence would be over. But because he won, he lives to fight another day. And with Trump being president, and presumably he runs for re-election in 2020, we're a ways away from thinking about the next steps for Ted Cruz. If we've learned anything in the era of Trump, a month is a lifetime. So we'll hear from Ted Cruz again, I suspect."

"The election results ... indicate that [Texas is] a slightly more purple-ish shade of red than it was before. But no doubt it's still red."

Sean Theriault

On what the Senate race and other Texas congressional races say about the state politically

"It's important to note that there were 10 races that were decided ... for the House of Representatives where the margin was less than 10 points. So if Beto could have driven that turnout machine up just even a little bit more, we would be talking about the Democrats picking up three, four, five, six seats maybe even in Texas. That kind of result would firmly put Texas in the purple category. But as it is, the election results ... indicate that it's a slightly more purple-ish shade of red than it was before. But no doubt it's still red."

On what could be next for O'Rourke, and the possibility of a 2020 presidential run

"I suspect that Beto has a future, and he can determine what that future is going to be. I suspect for the next six months or so he's going to stay in El Paso, he's going to help raise his kids again, he's going to reconnect with his family. And then I think that he's going to have to look himself in the mirror and figure out what the next-best step is. I mean it could be 2020, or it could be sitting out for a while. He's a young guy, so he could sit out 2020 and maybe 2024, maybe run for governor in four years.

"But definitely with the result ... and the way that he galvanized the Texas population — and really the Democrats around the country — he certainly has a future in politics, if he wants a future."


Ashley Bailey produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Jack Mitchell adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on November 7, 2018.

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