Speed Reads

beto vs. ted

Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz release their final ads before Election Day, featuring Texas, Willie, and Texas

With the race between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), appearing to tighten in the home stretch, both Cruz and O'Rourke hit the road on the final weekend before Election Day. In early voting, which ended Friday, nearly 40 percent of voters cast ballots in the 30 counties where 78 percent of Texas registered voters live, less than the 45 percent who voted early in 2016 but a larger percentage than in 2014 (19 percent) — a total of 34 percent of Texans voted in 2014 — and 2012.

O'Rourke released his closing campaign ad Sunday night, emphasizing that he has driven to all 254 Texas counties and, incidentally, shared a stage with Willie Nelson, whose "On the Road Again" provides the soundtrack for the ad. As with all O'Rourke ads, it is upbeat and talks a lot about Texas.

The Cruz campaign released a video Sunday featuring a group of young or ethnically diverse people talking about how they are no longer Democrats and now back Cruz, but his final ad touches on school vouchers, border security, tax cuts, and Texas.

It's not clear O'Rourke's novel road-trip model through every county in Texas will be enough to offset Cruz's advantage in rural areas — Politico's Tim Alberta is already explaining why O'Rourke failed to unseat Cruz. But as actor Sonny Carl Davis ("Come on, Ted") notes in this ad from an anti-Cruz PAC, Cruz visited all 99 counties in Iowa, and that was enough for him to win the 2016 Iowa causes. Peter Weber