“The knock against Texas was that we were a hundred-million-dollar endeavor, but that’s not the case anymore because now, we’ve got so many well-funded races, from state House up, that they’re driving up the vote,” said Manny Garcia, the executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. “The fact that the RNC needs to send money to the Texas GOP is noteworthy, the fact that Texas GOP is talking about needing to do voter registration is noteworthy, the fact that the polling is so tight is noteworthy.”

Many Republicans in Texas and nationally say if O’Rourke couldn’t win in 2018 — in a wave election, with a huge financial advantage and volunteer network, and with his supporters using straight-ticket voting (which the legislature outlawed in 2017, but didn’t implement until after 2018) — then it can’t be done in 2020. They also insist that though the polls may be tight now, their voters will come home.

They may be right. But this view downplays the underlying trends transforming national politics, as well as their potency in Texas. And hearing this view also rang a bell: I spent 2018 reporting on ancestrally Republican places that supposedly couldn’t go blue as Democrats chased the House majority, from the beaches of Orange County, Calif. to the leafy sidewalks of the Atlanta collar counties — and, yes, the suburbs of Dallas and Houston.