This year’s midterm elections began yesterday with the Texas primaries and though Democrats did well in many down-ballot races, they did not perform as well as early polls suggested.
The GOP won many statewide races and had around a half million more votes in their primary than the Democratic primary. However, what’s encouraging for liberals is that more Democrats voted in the Texas primaries than in any comparable race since 2002. More promising news is that many female and grassroots candidates fared well, while candidates that led in fundraising faltered. In fact, three Democrats who led in fundraising for most of last year failed to reach the runoffs in top-tier congressional races.
Ed Meier, a former Obama-era State Department official, aired TV commercials in Dallas’ rather expensive market, while nonprofit executive Alex Triantaphyllis raised more than $1 million, but both candidates finished in fourth place in their respective races. Former NFL player Colin Allred, on the other hand, didn’t air any commercials and struggled to raise money, but received the most votes. However, Allred’s success may say more about Americans’ love affair with celebrities than it does about Democrats’ backlash against big-donor fundraising.
In terms of female candidates, Texas will also get its first two Latina members of Congress. All of the EMILY’s List-endorsed candidates in Democratic primaries either won or advanced to a runoff.
Democrats still have their backs against the wall in regards to taking over the state. Republican senator Ted Cruz will be difficult to beat, especially given that the presumed Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s up-and-coming rivals received over 38 percent of the primary vote.
Republican George P. Bush, son of Jeb, avoided a runoff in his reelection bid as Land Commissioner on Tuesday night, which showed that unapologetic loyalty to President Trump can still be a winning strategy, even if some Trump supporters may perceive Bush as a “swamp monster.”
Looking forward to other midterms, it appears in that deep-red states, it will be hard to flip seats and draw out new voters, given that much of the Democrats’ early votes in the Texas primaries were from existing primary voters. Also, it appears that in safe, conservative states, Trump isn’t necessarily as toxic as he’s perceived in the national polls. But continuing positive trends for the Democrats are the success of diverse candidates and candidates who aren’t career politicians raking in millions of dollars.