AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Donald Trump made sure Texas stayed America's largest red state on Tuesday, easily locking up its 38 electoral votes.
The billionaire businessman prevailed despite some polling last month suggesting that Hillary Clinton might at least be competitive and questions about whether the state's traditional Republican base would fully embrace such a bombastic and nontraditional candidate. Even former President and Texas Gov. George W. Bush and his wife Laura declined to vote for Trump, "choosing none of the above" on early ballots they cast two weeks ago, according to spokesman Freddy Ford.
"Trump wasn't my first, second, third, fourth or fifth choice. He was the one who survived the primaries," said Lyndon Joslin, a 60-year-old who cast his ballot at a southwest Houston elementary school. "This is just like another deal he's trying to strike. Being somebody who's been on reality television, this is almost like another showbiz turn for him."
Befitting the GOP White House nominee's affinity for the word "huge," though, Trump's win came on a record-shattering night for Texas. The state exceeded 15.1 million registered voters for the first time, while voter turnout broke 2008's record of just over 8 million.
A Democrat hasn't won statewide office in Texas since 1994, the longest electoral losing streak in the country. But the party still had a potential bright spot in a West Texas congressional district sprawling from San Antonio to suburban El Paso and encompassing 800-plus miles of largely sparsely populated U.S.-Mexico border. There, former Democratic congressman Pete Gallego was in a dead-heat with the Republican incumbent who unseated him two years ago, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd.
Trump's win means Texas still hasn't supported a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter 40 years ago.
Clinton had hoped to pull off an upset after Trump's repeated insults of Latinos, his promises to build a towering wall along the entire 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border and his harsh immigration rhetoric. Texas' 10.2 million Hispanics represent 39 percent of the state's population, but only about 5 million are eligible to vote as U.S. citizens 18 or older. Associated Press exit polling showed that roughly 6 in 10 Hispanic voters in Texas were backing Clinton — but it wasn't enough.
And, of course, not all Texas Hispanics favored Clinton. Clemente Ruiz, a Lubbock truck driver, said he agreed with Trump on many hot-button topics: "I'm 100 percent for the border, for the fence, and I'm for militarizing the border."
Still, uneasiness with Trump may yet cost Hurd, a former CIA agent and one of just three black Republicans in Congress whose district is nearly 70 percent Hispanic. Hurd beat Gallego by about 2,400 votes in 2014 but if he falls short this time, the district will have flipped between parties for four straight cycles.
Hurd is one of the few top Texas Republicans who unsuccessfully urged Trump to abandon the GOP presidential nomination after the 2005 recording surfaced in which Trump bragged about groping and kissing women without permission.
Texas' other 35 congressional districts were also on the ballot, but didn't appear competitive. All Texas House seats and 16 state Senate seats were also up for election — though both chambers will remain comfortably Republican-controlled when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
The top statewide posts, governor, lieutenant governor and even U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz aren't up for re-election until 2018. However, on the Court of Criminal Appeals, Lawrence Meyers is the senior justice and was first elected as a Republican in 1992. He switched parties in 2013 and was seeking re-election to Texas' highest criminal court as a Democrat on Tuesday against Harris County Republican District Judge Mary Lou Keel.
A Keel win would mean the Republicans again control all 23 of Texas' statewide offices and ensure that a Democratic electoral losing streak for Texas statewide offices will continue at least until 2018.
Texas was once as loyally Democratic as it is now Republican. Thomas Perry, a 31-year-old Clinton supporter and studio technician in Dallas, said he can imagine the state one day switching back.
"This is my first time seeing this many Democrats," Perry said of watching people cast ballots opposing Trump on Tuesday. Asked if he thinks Democrats will ever break the statewide losing streak, Perry replied: "I think it's really possible."