Here come the caveats—the Democrats have to actually make something of this opening. The planets might not line up this way again. Suburban anger has to persist. Much of this was possible because of O’Rourke and his money, and it may not be possible without him. (Though it has been repeatedly noted by O’Rourke’s allies that there happens to be another Senate seat up in 2020, currently held by Republican John Cornyn.) All this might well be a one-off. But if it turns out to be part of even a weak trend line, it’s not sustainable for the Republican Party here.
No one is more surprised to be writing this after the election than me, who consistently told people in the run-up to the voting that I thought O’Rourke would underperform the polls and lose by 7 to 8 points. (Or, as I stipulated for the office pool, 5.75.) But if there’s one thing that became clear over the last two years, it’s that no one understands this terrifically weird state well enough to know what’s actually going on here from moment to moment.