Ted Cruz holds back the Democrat Texas tide – for now

And – whatever the Democrat gains elsewhere on election night – the mood among Republicans was one of celebration and vindication.

They see Cruz’s victory over upstart Beto O’Rourke as a seal of approval for their man and the president whose support he courted.

There were as many Trump hats as Cruz ones in the hotel ballroom. The days of “Lyin’ Ted” being humiliated by Trump are a distant memory for Texas Republicans.

Cruz did show the humility to pay tribute to O’Rourke for his campaign – as the boos rang out among his supporters – and what he had done to mobilise and energise young voters.

But, he said, ultimately Texas had chosen a different path.

In fact it was extraordinary that a seat in Texas was even in play.

The Lone Star State has been reliably red for decades. The last time a Democrat won a Senate seat here was in 1988.

But, although O’Rourke’s rise was testament to his rock star campaign and impressive fundraising, a bigger factor was at play.

The demographics of Texas, like many of the western states, are shifting. Minority populations are growing and transplants from the north and west are altering the landscape.

Even supporters of O’Rourke who expected to see their candidate defeated believed his movement would be a seminal moment in American politics.

If a state like Texas comes within reach for Democrats in the next election cycle, how do Republicans respond?

Of course, many predicted that these factors would propel Hillary Clinton to the White House in 2016. They were wrong.

And Republican durability in states across the country, in an election expected to deliver a rebuke to Donald Trump, shows the party is doing something right in voters’ eyes.

For all Trump’s much talked about disapproval ratings, a referendum on his presidency delivered millions of thumbs-ups.

Holding the Senate with an increased margin, even with a favourable election map for the party, will convince even more Republicans that the Trump path is the most productive one.

A divided congress sets the fuse for potential fireworks for the next two years and the social and cultural wars that grip America will continue to rage.

And Trump will be centre stage.

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