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Is it true what they say about Texas? by @BloggersRUs

Is it true what they say about Texas?

by Tom Sullivan

from #NN18 in New Orleans

The Cook Political Report on Friday moved the U.S. Senate race in Texas from Likely R into the Lean R column, signifying a tightening no one expected when Democrat Rep. Beto O'Rourke announced his challenge to incumbent Republican Ted Cruz:

In many ways, O’Rourke is running a very modern campaign that thrives on social media. He has visited all 254 counties in the state at least once, posting parts of his journey on Facebook where he has 354,000 followers. O’Rourke has 255,000 followers on Twitter, and a very active Instagram account. He doesn’t have a pollster or a media consultant. The campaign released its first ad in late July; it was produced entirely from footage shot with an iPhone during campaign stops over the last few months. For now, it is only airing online.

O’Rourke has also proven to be a very adept fundraiser. As of June 30, he had $23.8 million receipts for cycle, including $10.4 million in the 2nd quarter; 41 percent of the 2nd quarter receipts were in contributions of less than $200. After spending almost $4.5 million last quarter, he finished with $13,961,359 in the bank. O’Rourke doesn’t accept contributions from PACs and has asked super PACs to stay out of the race. By contrast, Cruz had $23.7 million in receipts for the cycle, including almost $4.1 million in the second quarter. The campaign spent $2 million in the second, posting a cash-on-hand total of $9,299,366 as of June 30.

Real Clear Politics shows Cruz with a 6.5 point polling advantage through the end of July. That closes polling gap from two months ago by almost half.

Josh Voorhees writes at Slate:

The best reason for Democrats to be excited, meanwhile, might be that Cruz is acting like a candidate who is starting to get nervous. Back in April, O’Rourke challenged Cruz to a slate of six debates, two of which were to be in Spanish. Cruz finally felt compelled to respond last week, proposing five debates, all in English. Yes, Cruz fancies himself a master debater, but as my colleague Jim Newell points out, that’s an awful lot of televised one-on-one time for an incumbent to offer up if he believes he has re-election in the bag.

Still, liberals ought to temper their expectations in Texas—not easy since they would take obvious joy in knocking Cruz off given his role on the national scene during the past half-decade, on everything from health care to immigration to guns. Democrats are vastly outnumbered in Texas, and O’Rourke still faces the very real challenge of simply introducing himself to voters in the state. Quinnipiac found that, about 100 days out from Election Day, 43 percent of Texas voters didn’t know enough about O’Rourke to have an opinion of him.

It's still an uphill climb for O'Rourke, Voorhees writes. Wendy Davis' pink shoes carried her only so far in her gubernatorial challenge to Greg Abbott in 2014. But that was then. This is now. The momentum is in Democrats' favor. He would have been a rock star at Netroots Nation in New Orleans (#NN18). Sen. Kamala Harris filled that role instead, and probably better than he could anyway:

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