CHICAGO (AP) — Republicans held on to top seats in Texas with the help of white voters, rural voters and those who said they were expressing their support for President Trump. Voters casting midterm election ballots were divided over the state of the nation, according to a wide-ranging survey of the American electorate.
AP VoteCast found that Texas voters are split over the direction of the country: 49 percent said it’s on the right track, while 50 percent said the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Here’s a snapshot of who voted and why in Texas, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, an innovative nationwide survey of about 139,000 voters and nonvoters — including 3,779 voters and 833 nonvoters in the state of Texas — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
RACE FOR SENATE
Republican Ted Cruz pulled out a win over Democrat Beto O’Rourke with a sizeable advantage among white voters, rural voters and those who approve of President Donald Trump and said they voted to express support for him.
No Democrat has won a statewide race in Texas since 1994, but O’Rourke proved a tough opponent in the deep-red state.
Fifty-nine percent of Texas voters were white, and 68 percent of them supported Cruz. O’Rourke had overwhelming support from black voters — 90 percent of the vote — and Latinos — 69 percent — but together, those groups represented just 35 percent of voters. Women also were more likely to support O’Rourke, 54 percent to 45 percent, while men favored Cruz, 57 percent to 42 percent.
Twenty-four percent of voters identified as white evangelical or born-again Christians, and they overwhelmingly supported Cruz, by 86 percent to 14 percent.
The largest share of voters, 45 percent, were from the suburbs, and Cruz and O’Rourke split their votes. O’Rourke received 64 percent of the urban vote, though Cruz made up the difference with heavy support in rural areas, 68 percent, and small towns, 61 percent.
There also was an age gap among voters, with those under 45 favoring O’Rourke, 59 percent to 40 percent, while those 45 and older were more likely to favor Cruz, 58 percent to 42 percent.
John DeOrian, a 28-year-old financial analyst, said he comes from a Republican family but turned out to vote for O’Rourke, calling himself “reluctantly a Democratic voter.”
“I’m trying to punish the Republicans for enabling some silliness at the national level. It’s maybe more a vote against Cruz than for O’Rourke,” DeOrian said.
Ken Wenzl, a 66-year-old computer trainer, voted for Cruz because he wants to make sure Trump can achieve his agenda: ”(Trump) is amazing the way he is going after stuff.”
RACE FOR GOVERNOR
Republican Greg Abbott defeated Democrat Lupe Valdez with the help of white voters, men and those who identified as white evangelicals and born-again Christians.
Sixty-two percent of men cast their ballots for Abbott, while women split their votes between him and Valdez. Abbott also received 72 percent of the white vote.
Minority voters strongly supported Valdez, but a smaller share cast ballots in the midterm election compared to white voters, who favored Abbott 72 percent to 26 percent.
Valdez had an advantage over Abbott among voters under 45, while older voters favored Abbott
TOP ISSUE: IMMIGRATION
Immigration was at the forefront of Texas voters’ minds, with 30 percent saying it was the most important issue facing the nation in this year’s midterm elections. Another 23 percent said health care was most important and 19 percent said the economy was most important. Gun policy and terrorism also were cited as the top issue by some voters.
Octavio Rodriguez, 45, a digital business integration manager from Dallas who considers himself neither a Republican nor Democrat, wore a shirt that read “Immigrant” as he went to the polls Tuesday morning. Rodriguez was born in Mexico and his family moved here when he was very young. He said he became a U.S. citizen thanks to the immigration reform act signed by President Ronald Reagan.
He said that the picture being painted of immigration isn’t accurate. “I think there’s a lack of common sense in government overall, and I’m talking about both Republicans and Democrats when I say that,” he said.
Texas’ booming Hispanic population is roughly 11 million and is on pace to outnumber whites as early as 2022. Since 2010, Hispanic population growth in Texas has outpaced whites 3-to-1.
STATE OF THE ECONOMY
Enrique Matta said the economy was one of the issues at the top of his mind when he voted early this election. The software developer, who was born in Puerto Rico, said he did not vote for President Donald Trump in 2016, but has approved of the tax cuts and how the president has handled issues around pharmacy drugs.
“Economically, we’re going in the right direction, but we have so much vitriol between the left and the right,” he said.
Other Texas voters also had a positive view of the nation’s current economic outlook, with 71 percent saying the nation’s economy is good, compared with 28 percent who said it isn’t.
Wenzl the computer trainer said he is particularly grateful that Trump has cut government regulations.
For 34 percent of Texas voters, Trump was not a factor in how they voted, while 65 percent said he was — of those, 31 percent said their vote was to express support for Trump and 34 percent said it was to express opposition to the president. Half of voters said they approved of how he is handling his job and half said they disapproved of him.
Amanda Martin, 40, a high school teacher, said she is a Republican but her displeasure with Trump affected her vote.
“I like that Trump is trying to secure the borders but I don’t believe he’s tactful in his relations with how he communicates with the media and he’s not a good face for our country,” Martin said.
Virtually all Texas Republicans on the ballot, from Cruz to Gov. Greg Abbott, have been unwavering in their support of the Trump administration.
CONTROL OF CONGRESS
Tuesday’s elections will determine control of Congress in the final two years of Trump’s term in office, and 76 percent of Texas voters said that was very important as they considered their vote. Another 18 percent said it was somewhat important.
Javier Paz, a 41-year-old public school history teacher, said he volunteered for the O’Rourke campaign against Cruz because he believes O’Rourke could act as a balance against Trump’s policies and on other Republicans who he doesn’t believe hold the president accountable.
“They really don’t check him on anything,” he said.
STAYING AT HOME
In Texas, 71 percent of registered voters who didn’t vote in the midterm election were younger than 45. A wide share of those who did not vote — 82 percent — did not have a college degree. Thirty-one percent of nonvoters were Democrats and 36 percent were Republicans.
AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate in all 50 states conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. The survey of 3,779 voters and 833 nonvoters in Texas was conducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, concluding as polls close on Election Day. It combines interviews in English or Spanish with a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files and self-identified registered voters selected from opt-in online panels. Participants in the probability-based portion of the survey were contacted by phone and mail, and had the opportunity to take the survey by phone or online. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 2.0 percentage points. All surveys are subject to multiple sources of error, including from sampling, question wording and order, and nonresponse. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at http://www.ap.org/votecast.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics
Associated Press writers Paul Weber in Austin, Texas, David Koenig in XXXX and Jamie Stengle and Ryan Tarinelli in Dallas contributed to this story.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics
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