Texas turnout high as Cruz, O'Rourke end close Senate race

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In a place where most statewide elections are battled out and decided in the big cities, O'Rourke has fought to expand the map - making a point of visiting all of Texas's 254 counties, including deeply rural towns where residents rarely met politicians who weren't local and often didn't vote in state races.

Nearly 332,000 Texans between the ages of 18 and 29 cast ballots in early voting, which extends through Friday, according to figures from data company Target Smart. Secretary of State data through Thursday includes counties that are home to almost 80 percent of Texas' population. More than 4.8 million ballots were cast during early voting, surpassing the total turnout of the 2014 midterms. Ted Cruz and Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke are working their way home at the end of one of the most closely watched races of the 2018 midterms.

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O'Rourke is trying to become Texas' first Democrat to win statewide office since 1994, but faces long odds given the advantage that GOP candidates have in statewide elections.

It also sparked speculation that O'Rourke could use an upset of Cruz, or even a close loss, to run for president in 2020.

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