Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wants his supporters to believe that he’s gaining momentum to win re-election and defeat Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) in November.
A recent photo of a Cruz rally in Arlington, Texas suggests otherwise.
Dallas Morning News Washington bureau chief Todd Gilman recently tweeted two photos of Sen. Cruz’s rally in the Dallas suburb earlier this week, held at the Arlington music hall. One photo, taken from the back of the crowd, shows several dozen people holding Cruz signs and watching Texas’ junior senator give his stump speech. Cruz reportedly told the crowd that Democrat Beto O’Rourke is “rattled” by Republicans’ momentum heading into the 2018 midterm elections.
The second photo, however, shows that less than half of the room is full, according to Gilman.
— Todd J. Gillman (@toddgillman) October 25, 2018
Rep. O’Rourke, in the meantime, hasn’t had problems filling rooms during his campaign. Several weeks ago, the Democrat held a 55,000-person rally in Austin, Texas with country singer Willie Nelson. While it could be argued that the crowd showed up to hear Nelson, USA Today reported that “O’Rourke, not Nelson,” was the star of the show that night.
55,000 people in Austin at the #Beto rally tonight! Can't emphasize enough how massive this was. Here's a shot from where I was in the back. The screen is about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way to the main stage. pic.twitter.com/o8thgTZ5Xf
— kj🇺🇸 (@polirical) September 30, 2018
The Beto rally last night in Austin pic.twitter.com/DKC5lnRmqs
— Karma Police (@MeanMrMustache) September 30, 2018
The Austin rally with Beto O’Rourke and Willie Nelson was more than twice as large as the recent campaign rally President Trump held for Sen. Cruz in Houston. Local outlet KHOU reported that the Toyota Center — which hosted the rally — was filled to its 18,300-seat capacity, and another 3,000 or so Trump supporters were outside watching the livestream of the rally on big-screen TVs.
While polls still show Sen. Cruz with a comfortable lead over O’Rourke by approximately seven points among likely voters, record-shattering early voter turnout suggests that even unlikely voters are turning out in large numbers. According to local ABC affiliate KVIA, most of the 39,000 El Paso, Texas voters who cast ballots early in the first two days of early voting didn’t vote in the 2014 midterms. This number is abnormally high for El Paso (home of Beto O’Rourke), with turnout from just the first two days exceeding all early voter turnout in El Paso in the 2014 midterms.
If Beto O’Rourke wins on November 6, it would be the first time a Democrat has represented Texas in the U.S. Senate since Bob Krueger, who left office in 1993.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.