Quinnipiac just dropped a shock poll in the Texas Senate race. They have Ted Cruz narrowly beating Beto O’Rourke 47% to 44%.
Among the key demographic findings:
- O’Rourke and Cruz are strongly favored by their respective parties, but independents are breaking for O’Rourke 51%-37%. Independents are a must win for O’Rourke and he must win them by a lot due to Texas’s built-in Republican advantage.
- White voters support Cruz 59-34, while black voters support O’Rourke 78-18, and Hispanic voters support O’Rourke 51-33.
- Voters under 35 support O’Rourke 59-34 while voters older than 65 support Cruz 50-43.
There are some other alarms for the Cruz campaign in the poll. For example, President Donald Trump has an abysmal approval rating in the Lone Star with only 43% of Texans approving of Trump’s job performance. Independents disapprove of Trump 64% to 28%.
There is also evidence that Trump is weighing down Cruz. 27% of respondents say their vote will be motivated by opposition to Trump compared to 26% who say it will be to support Trump. 43% said Trump will not be a factor.
However, independents are motivated to vote against Trump. 32% of independents say their vote will be to send a message of opposition to Trump, compared to just 13% who will use it to support Trump.
In better news for Cruz, he has a lead over O’Rourke on all the issues polled from guns to taxes, with the only close issue is healthcare where he only leads O’Rourke 43-42.
Cruz’s approval numbers aren’t great, but they’re not terrible either. He has a 47-45 job approval rating and a 46-44 favorability rating. O’Rourke has a 30-16 favorability rating, but 53% of Texans don’t know who he is.
What to take away from the poll? For starters, Ted Cruz has a fight on his hands. Trump only won Texas by 9% in 2016 and he is underwater in the state. The left is fired up and the state has increasingly become diverse and more educated. Beto is also raising lots of money.
Having said all of that, Cruz should still be favored. The state is still heavily Republican and there’s also the fact that Beto O’Rourke is a very left-wing guy on the issues. From guns to immigration, O’Rourke is simply out of step with Texas and he can’t hide from that. The Texas Republican Party and various conservative super PACs will have plenty of money to educate Texas voters on Beto’s record.
Also, we should note that Texas polls frequently low ball Republicans in statewide elections. For example, as late as October 2016, polling showed Trump with only a 2-3% lead over Hillary Clinton.
Cruz probably wins reelection between 5-10 points and it will be closer to the 10.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has a 54% approval and leads both of his potential Democratic opponents. He should be favored for easy reelection.