With two weeks to go until the midterm elections, passions—and voter turnout—are running high in Texas. In Houston early Monday, thousands of people lined up at a voting location hours before early voting began, the Houston Chronicle reports. Authorities say early voting turnout has been much higher than in 2014 across the state's biggest counties. Renée Cross, senior director for the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, tells the Texas Tribune that the numbers are "very impressive." "We see so much anger or enthusiasm about candidates in much higher numbers than we’ve ever seen," she says. "From a political standpoint, I think there’s just as much energy that we’ve seen in presidential years." In other election news:
- Trump praises "Beautiful Ted." President Trump appeared at a Houston rally for Sen. Ted Cruz on Monday, where both men made it clear the bitterness of the 2016 campaign was behind them. Before he flew to Texas, Trump told reporters that he now called Cruz "Beautiful Ted" or "Texas Ted" instead of "Lyin' Ted," reports the Washington Post. At the rally, the two men embraced and Cruz told the crowd that he is looking forward to hitting the campaign trail for Trump's re-election bid in 2020. Trump described Cruz's opponent, Beto O'Rourke, as "overrated."
- "You know what I am? I'm a nationalist." At the Cruz rally, Trump attacked Democrats as a "big risk to the American family" and accused them of "encouraging millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders, and overwhelm our nation," the AP reports. He also attacked globalists, declaring himself to be a nationalist.
- GOP may have the edge in early voting. According to data analyzed by NBC News, talk of a "blue wave" may be overstated: In early voting, Republican-affiliated voters have outnumbered Democrats in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas, while Democrats are ahead in Nevada.
- Trump "plans to distance himself from GOP losses." Insiders tell Politico that while Trump is currently describing the midterm vote as a vote on his presidency, he plans to break with recent precedent and distance himself from the results if there are serious GOP losses. The sources say Trump is likely to blame losses on House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—as well as the media. One GOP insider says Trump has said of McConnell and Ryan: "These are their elections ... and if they screw it up, it's not my fault."
- Dems lower "blue wave" expectations. Trump may not have to distance himself from results: With congressional races tightening, Democrats have been trying to lower expectations of a "blue wave," the Hill reports. Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez says he believes this year's races will be close and control of the House could rest on just a few votes.
(These are the most, and least, political states.