No Longer The Start Of Election Season, Labor Day Now Marks The Sprint To The Finish

In a year when Texas Republicans are facing stronger-than-usual challenges, both sides have been campaigning hard for moths.

By Rhonda FanningSeptember 3, 2018 12:11 pm

Labor Day once marked the traditional start of election season. That’s hard to believe now with 24-hour news cycles, and more and more people tuned in to social media. These days, Labor Day signals the final sprint for those running for office to reach voters before they head to the polls in November. So, with campaigns already well underway, how are the midterms shaping up in Texas?

Jim Riddlesperger, political science professor at Texas Christian University, says the news starts at the top of the ticket, with the race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke for the U.S. Senate. Demographics are changing, he says.

“We saw a squeezing of the Republican majority in the 2016 elections, so it is moving a little bit in that direction,” Riddlesperger says. “But still, Trump won by a comfortable nine percent.”

A Houston congressional contest has gotten the attention of more than one national outlet, including The Atlantic, which calls the race between Republican John Culberson and democratic challenger Lizzie Fletcher “the future of Texas politics.”

Riddlesperger says suburban voters have voted solidly with the Republicans, but are now trending toward Democrats. That could benefit Fletcher in her district, TX-7 in Houston. 

“More educated voters tend to be trending a little more toward the Democrats at this point,” he says.

The same trend could affect two Dallas congressional races were Republican incumbents are seeking reelection in districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“We have to assume that there is potential for a Democrat to be competitive in both those seats,” Riddlesperger says.

The race for Texas attorney general is another potential bright spot for Democrats, Riddlesperger says, because conservative incumbent Ken Paxton “is a flash point because of his legal problems.”

Written by Shelly Brisbin.