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3 Things To Watch For During The Final Cruz-O'Rourke Debate

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke will debate Sen. Ted Cruz tonight in San Antonio.
Montinique Monroe for KUT
U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke will debate Sen. Ted Cruz tonight in San Antonio.

Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger, Congressman Beto O'Rourke, will debate tonight one final time before early voting begins Monday.

The race has gotten a lot of national attention and plenty of money. Both Cruz and O'Rourke broke fundraising records in the third quarter. Cruz's $12 million set a state GOP record, while O'Rourke's $38 million was the most any U.S. Senate candidate has raised in a three-month period.

RELATED | How Money Is Making Polling In The Texas Senate Race Less Reliable

Cruz has been ahead in all but one poll. The last couple showed him with as much as a 9-point lead over the El Paso representative.

With less than a week to go before early voting, tonight's debate gives the candidates a chance to make their closing arguments. It's one of their last chances to convince undecided voters. But that's not the only group they're trying to appeal to, and that brings us to thing No. 1 to watch for:

Republicans hold an advantage in Texas when it comes to likely voters, so if O'Rourke or any Democrat wants to win, he'll need to get people to come out who haven't voted in a long time or ever. Watch for O'Rourke to make a pitch to younger voters and groups who haven't been as politically engaged, like Hispanic voters.

Whether it's a debate on foreign or domestic policy, both candidates will have plenty to say about the country's immigration policies. Cruz and President Trump supporters continue to push for a border wall, while O'Rourke is pushing for immigration changes and a pathway to citizenship. The candidates have polar opposite opinions across much of this issue.

Time is short. The race is closer than any statewide election in decades. If either candidate thinks going on the attack could put him over the edge, things could get dirty. In the last week, Cruz has referred to "Comrade Beto" during campaign stops and repeatedly talked about what he considers O'Rourke's socialist agenda. So far, O'Rourke has kept it clean. But as the debate gets going, and the adrenaline hits, we'll see if he sticks to his "go-high" plan.

You can watch the showdown on KVUE tonight at 8. KUT will also air the debate tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Ben Philpott covers politics and policy for KUT 90.5 FM. He has been covering state politics and dozens of other topics for the station since 2002. He's been recognized for outstanding radio journalism by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and twice by the Houston Press Club as Radio Journalist of the Year. Before moving to Texas, he worked in public radio in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and at several television stations in Alabama and Tennessee. Born in New York City and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., Philpott graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in broadcast journalism.