When Rep. Beto O’Rourke loses to incumbent Senator Ted Cruz on November 6, it won’t be for a lack of campaign contributions. The race to choose the junior senator from the Lone Star State is now the costliest one in the country. The two candidates have reached a combined total of $110M to date.

That’s a lot of money by anyone’s standard, even in Texas where everything is bigger. The padded coffers are funding an overload of television ads, that’s for sure. I can’t turn on the television without seeing one of the two on my screen. O’Rourke is outpacing Cruz on the fundraising front.

That milestone was certain after Cruz announced on Thursday that he has already raised $5.3 million this month. O’Rourke announced he has pulled in another $8.4 million during the same time period. Combined, the two have raised $110 million for the race.

O’Rourke is a major reason for the fundraising record. He had raised $61 million for his campaign as of Oct. 1. Cruz has raised a total of $40 million through Thursday.

The latest campaign ads from the O’Rourke campaign seem a bit rushed and manic to me but it probably also has to do with his manner of speaking. He uses non-stop gesturing to emphasize his words and the last few ads produced are all single-issue ads with blurred out outdoor backgrounds as he directly addresses the camera. I can only assume his intention is to appear aggressively passionate about each issue. The issues include education and teacher pay, and illegal immigration, two Democratic favorite wedge issues.

The latest polling of this race still shows O’Rourke behind Cruz. Actually, O’Rourke has failed to lead in any poll from the beginning but you’d never know that from the enthusiasm on the left for this guy. He’s the latest great hope of a statewide Democratic win in Texas, a goal unattained since 1996. (Houston Chronicle)

Although O’Rourke leads Cruz in fundraising, he still trails the Republican in public polling. The last five major public polls show Cruz leading by as few as 5 percentage points and by as many as 9 points.

Cruz was once expected to easily win re-election, but O’Rourke has surprised political experts with his unconventional campaign. He’s used a social-media driven campaign to travel to each of the 254 counties in Texas and visit places Democrats have largely written off in the past.

According to the latest UT/TT poll released yesterday, Cruz is ahead by 6 points. Also of note, the poll shows all four of the top statewide races having solid Republican leads. So much for that blue wave in Texas. Not this time around.

Democratic and Republican voters, as might be expected, lined up strongly behind their respective party’s candidates. But independent voters, a group that often leans to the Republicans in statewide elections, broke for O’Rourke, 51 percent to Cruz’s 39 percent.

“The major Senate candidates were trying to mobilize their partisans, without a lot of attempt to get voters to cross over. And it looks like they’ve done that,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “If you look for Republican defections to Beto O’Rourke, they’re not there. But the independents break to the Democrat instead of the Republican in that race.”

So, it’s unusual for independent voters to go with Democrats but I think that a renewed enthusiasm on the Republican side will overcome that development. After the Kavanaugh disaster manufactured by the Democrats in Washington D.C., the base of the Republican party has shown a determination to get out the vote. In Harris County (Houston) where I live, the early voting totals are at a presidential race level, far surpassing normal mid-term voting participation. The attacks on due process and Brett Kavanaugh plus the migrant caravan heading for the Texas border from Central America have brought out voters on both sides, that’s for sure.

While Democrats want you to believe that a big voter turnout helps them win, the truth is that in red states like Texas, big voter turnouts work for both parties. I went to early vote Friday and I can vouch for the fact that turnout is unusually high. The interest in the mid-term election is higher than I can recall at any other time in the 20 years I’ve lived in Houston. At my voting location, fortunately, there was ample staff and volunteers to manage the voting process. I always early vote and I have used the same location for all these years. This year, there are presidential race level numbers of voting machines crammed into the room. I didn’t experience the two hour waits that voters dealt with earlier this week, thank goodness. My wait was just a few minutes. Again, this was due to the number of poll workers and their ability to manage the process.

In an unusual move, even Ted Cruz is early voting. His campaign is letting his supporters know that Cruz will vote Sunday at a community center where they will hold a rally. Supporters are encouraged to bring rally signs and show their enthusiasm for getting out the vote. I find that odd since candidates usually like to vote on election day, family in tow, and cameras running. This is 2018, though, and the new normal is in full play.

Sorry, Beto. This isn’t going to be your year.