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Beto won the 5 biggest counties in Texas. How Cruz made up ground for a win

Beto O'Rourke even beat Ted Cruz in Tarrant County, a Republican stronghold. But Cruz made up ground on the strength of his support in Texas' mid-sized and rural counties.

Beto O'Rourke was expected to do well in the biggest counties in the state – and he did, taking home victories in Dallas, Harris (Houston), Bexar (San Antonio) and Travis (Austin) counties in his bid for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

He even edged out Cruz in Tarrant County, typically a Republican stronghold.

But Cruz, after trailing early in the night, made up ground in a hurry, and he did it on the strength of his support in the mid-sized and rural counties across the state. It wasn't surprising that Cruz performed well there, but the numbers show how he outpaced O'Rourke, despite O'Rourke's strong showing in urban areas.

Here's a breakdown of some of the key areas where Cruz racked up the votes, via numbers from county election websites. (The Texas Tribune also has a good interactive map with each county's numbers. Check it out.)

• Smith County (Tyler): Cruz earned nearly 70 percent of the vote here, beating O'Rourke by about 30,000 votes. He was just as dominant in the surrounding counties of East Texas.

• Montgomery County: In this suburban county north of Houston, Cruz earned about 72 percent of the vote. That translated to a margin of about 86,000 votes – about 137,000 to O'Rourke's roughly 51,000.

• Taylor County (Abilene): Cruz earned more than 73 percent of the vote here by a margin of nearly 20,000 votes. He also had a strong showing in the Midland-Odessa area, winning more than 76 percent in Midland County and more than 68 percent in Ector County for a total margin of more than 30,000 votes.

In the other counties of West Texas, Cruz saw

• Potter/Randall counties (Amarillo): Cruz won big in the two biggest counties near Amarillo – more than 68 percent in Potter County and nearly 80 percent in Randall County. The total Cruz votes in those counties were about 55,000, nearly 40,000 more than O'Rourke.

DFW suburbs: O'Rourke took home Dallas and Tarrant counties but Cruz, as expected, was strong in the surrounding counties. He comfortably won Collin (52-46), Denton (53-45), Wise (82-17), Parker (81-18), Hood (80-19), Johnson (75-23), Ellis (67-31), Kaufman (68-31) and Rockwall (68-30) counties. That turned out to be a difference of about 187,000 votes in Cruz's favor.

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