On Tuesday, Texas voters did as Texas voters historically do: They sent the full slate of Republican statewide candidates back to office. Those candidates faced varying degrees of difficulty—Senator Ted Cruz crawled his way to victory; Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton enjoyed more of a brisk sail—but the result was the same. The Republican Party maintained its grip on the state that so many believed would, at long last, go blue.
After two years of being barraged by books and articles forecasting a shift in Texas’s political alignment, Republicans might view Tuesday’s elections as a satisfying rebuke to that narrative. And in some ways they’d be right to: The national media’s coverage of Cruz’s Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, who represents the state’s 16th Congressional District in the House, seemed to verge, in some cases, on the sycophantic, and I talked to no shortage of Republicans who delighted in O’Rourke’s loss not so much for Cruz’s victory but for the image of reporters and pundits tucking their tails. Yet another election, their thinking went, in which the gulf between coastal elites and real Americans was laid bare.
As I wrote last night, O’Rourke’s loss stemmed in part from his inability to package his progressive vision in a way that proved palatable to the majority of Texas voters. Earlier this year, a Democratic representative up for reelection in a very liberal district, who requested anonymity for fear of backlash, told me he didn’t dare touch impeachment on the stump—it was too volatile a topic, he said, especially with low-hanging fruit such as health care and immigration up for grabs (this person won handily on Tuesday). It was curious, then, to see O’Rourke, in a state as red as Texas, tackle impeachment and other far-left proposals, such as the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, head on.