After 36 hours, polls will open for mid-term elections and 470 seats in Congress will be held. One of the most stunning competitive races unfolds in Texas. The Senate's election, which found Ted Cruz in the red corner, against Beto O'Rourke's challenger in the blue corner, represents more than just a blow to political theater, the confrontation of great personalities, and a record-breaking gathering. On the surface, the candidates have a lot in common: two Texans annually in addition to the age left for the Ivy League schools before returning. They were still elected to Congress the same day six years ago. But at this divided cultural and political moment, Cruz-O'Rourke has become a national barometer for American politics in the unlikely places.
"I do not know there could be much more in the line than there is today. I do not know if the choices could be clearer and the contrast be bigger."
Gov. Greg Abbott: As Texas goes, so will the future of the United States of America! [CHEERS]
At the age of 47, Senator Ted Cruz passed the tea end to the Democratic party.
Governor Greg Abbott: I welcome my good friend, your senator Ted Cruz! [CHEERS]
On a recent Sunday, shared the scene with Texas governor Greg Abbot on a road in Houston's home.
Senator Ted Cruz: God Bless Texas! [CHEERS]
Cruz is just as familiar with the levers of power … and the art of politics.
Senator Ted Cruz: Now why do people come to Texas? Because Texas is the chance. Because Texas is where freedom is!
We sat together with the Houston public BBQ.
Jon Wertheim: We had our cameras following for weeks. You are, you work hard out there. What are the basic principles you are trying to spend?
Senator Ted Cruz: When I ran six years ago, I told people in Texas that I would fight every day for a low tax, low regulation and a lot of work. My twin passions in life were the US system of free enterprise and the US Constitution.
In this solid red state, Cruz comes into battle armed with a loyal base: supporters of weapons, suburban, evangelical and big business. He also has the support of the chairman who meets.
President Trump: Ted's opponent in this race is a stone cold voice called Robert Francis O'Rourke. It is sometimes referred to as "Bay-to".
In fact, it's intense "Beto", a pseudonym for Robert who got to his home country of El Paso. He is a three-member US consultant from the west Texas border. A former bass player in a punk band, O'Rourke has finally reached the status rock star at age 46.
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: We are the defining history and experience of immigrants. A state of the border that understands the bilateral relationship with Mexico.
O'Rourke is based on the vote of thousands of millennia, minorities and urban practitioners in Texas. He has spent several months on his way to Texas. While his little band comes alive with everything, even the most cosmic moments. When we met him recently at Waco, we hit both the odometer and his voice.
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: I do not know there could be much more in the line than there is today. I do not know if the options could be clearer, the contrast is bigger.
Jon Wertheim: Why do you think so many people, both in Texas, but across Texas, are so captivated by this fight?
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: I think the way we run it, without PAC, without special interests, without opinion polls, without consultants, we go to every province, and all 254. At this really divided moment, everyone, knowing that they are invited to participate. And the fact that some of your stereotypes about what you think is Texas are not necessarily true.
He is right. The old state slogan says everything: "Texas – it's like a whole other country." But no more. Forget about the image of Texas, as this excessive deviation. Right now, it's really an impressively accurate reflection of the United States as a whole. Like America, the state is more different than ever. Four out of ten Texans are Hispanic. And Houston's Cruz home is going to overtake Chicago as the third largest US city after New York and L.A.
Senator Ted Cruz: Texas grows crazy. There is no situation like Texas. I think we have more than 1,000 people a day moving to Texas.
Texas can be carpet with flats and meadows, but the open skies are drilled with skyscrapers.
Lawrence Wright: Texas is an urban state. Three of the most populist, top ten cities are in Texas. And number 11 is Austin.
Lawrence Wright is a long-term resident of Austin and author of the book "God saves Texas". Characterizes the state in terms of two different radio frequencies.
Jon Wertheim: To what extent do you run against Ted Cruz? To what extent do you run with Donald Trump?
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: I'm not running against anyone. I really mean it. I want to make sure that we know the choice we have before us. Yes, they are walls, they are Muslim bans, it is "the press is the enemy of the people". We know where this road is leading us. We've seen the movie before. However, if we consider the stakes, if we are only organized against these things, then we criticize our opportunity to define the country in the most positive and ambitious way.
Here's an old saying in Texas: "There is nothing in the middle of the road but yellow strips and dead armaments." In this case, both candidates are right in their lanes.
Senator Ted Cruz: He wants to remove the ICE. I want to abolish the IRS! [CHEERS]
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: What if we end the war on drugs, ending the ban on marijuana. [CHEERS]
Lawrence Wright: Texans will have the choice between a person who is considered too right and another who is considered too lefty. I think if Beto is elected then you can say that Texas is no longer red, it is purple. If Texas is in the game, if it is not the old reliable red that has passed for such a long time. Then the country's policy will change.
At the moment, the country's policies are divided into two, with Americans taking rigid positions on climate change, weapons, healthcare and immigration, an issue that has a particular resonance in Texas and may be the largest gap between candidates.
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: Although I will tell you, I have lived almost all my life, 46 years on this planet in El Paso, half the world's largest community in the hemisphere, is also one of, if not the safest, cities of the United States of America. No, but because we are a migrant city.
Senator Ted Cruz: It wants to no longer be a crime to cross the border illegally. (BOOING) This will be the definition of open borders.
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: I just think that the policy that tries to scare you for me is a policy that we all feel sick about. He will tell you that I want open borders. False characterization, selflessness, lies lie with these tactics because they have proven to be effective in the past.
Cruz has pursued traditional retail policy and is based on his party's infrastructure, PAC money and traditional media. O'Rourke kept his party in balance.
Jon Wertheim: I noticed that you did not have many of the Democratic Party stars, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, former President Obama, that they do not come to Texas. Are you trying to distance yourself from the Party?
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: I'm not distancing myself. But I do not want anyone to come from abroad. I want the people of Texas to decide this on their own terms.
These elections should not lead to ideas, personalities or even money as they appear. Early vote in Texas has ruined expectations, more than 500 per cent of young voters from the previous middle.
Jon Wertheim: We still hear about the importance of attending the elections for these elections.
Senator Ted Cruz: Yes. If you look at the dynamics, we have numbers on our side. There are far more conservatives than there are liberals. What the O'Rourke campaign was for them was intense. The liberals in Texas are really, really crazy. They hate President Trumbas. This anger is dangerous. I mean, this anger is being mobilized. It means they will appear regardless of what. As I have said, they will crawl over broken – broken glasses to appear.
Jon Wertheim: Is not that good?
Senator Ted Cruz: Look, the tension is, it's always strong. The tension turns people to the polls.
Jon Wertheim: Are you working on the assumption that the more people appear, the better the chances of winning?
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: Yes, I think the more people appear, the better we do.
Jon Wertheim: Why?
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: Because the people who have fired so far are – are being fired to do something great for the country. This is my feeling. I do not have a poll, so I … I … I can not figure this out for you. But the turnout we see – is already from the charts.
Jon Wertheim: You did not mention any pollsters, no money PAC, and by the appearance of running this campaign from the front seat of your minivan.
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: Yes.
Jon Wertheim: Is it a good idea?
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: Yes, it's a great idea.
Jon Wertheim: Why is this?
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: It s funny. It is, it is the most direct way to connect with people. I like to go to a community daily after the next. It is the only way to really get to know the state and the people you want to serve.
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: When we decide to invest in people, things will be great …
Senator Ted Cruz: If you believe in low tax, low regulation and many jobs, if you believe in defending the Constitution.
Jon Wertheim: You have two polished politicians, both in the 40's, increasing stars in their parties. Is there any feeling, in Texas, are bets really high in this fight?
Lawrence Wright: Yes, because you know, we already had someone who ran for president. And for Donald Trumba, he may have been appointed. And then we have one for which we are already talking as a future presidential candidate, regardless of whether he wins this fight or not. Everyone has a central constituency that wants to be heard. This is something they have in common and runs very deep.
Senator Ted Cruz: If we lose our freedom here, where are we going? And so, look, I believed it when I was ten. I believed this when I was in college. I believe that now, this freedom works. Freedom matters.
Vice President Beto O'Rourke: This will be a defining moment for us. I'm sure people in the future will look back in 2018. They look back at this state in particular and say that Texas has decided everything.
Produced by Graham Messick. Deputy producer, Jack Weingart.