In a poll released Thursday by Public Policy Polling, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz leads Lt. Governor David Dewhurst 49-44 in the Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Cruz leads 59-36 among voters “very excited” about voting in the election. Dewhurst leads 70-20 among moderate voters. The PPP report noted that runoff elections are notoriously difficult to poll, but that Cruz’ chances look good based on his lead in the poll and his substantial lead with voters most likely to vote in the election, the “very excited voters.”
The PPP poll was the first comprehensive independent poll of the high profile race. With no viable Democratic opponent, the winner of the Republican runoff on July 31 will likely win the U.S. Senate seat.
Prior to the PPP poll, both campaigns had released internal polls showing their campaigns ahead. Dewhurst’s internal poll had the lieutenant governor leading by 8 percentage points while Cruz’ internal poll showed the former solicitor general up 9 points.
Long the favorite due to name recognition and fundraising prowess, Dewhurst was unable to secure the majority in the primary necessary to avoid a runoff. Cruz finished second in the May primary, trailing Dewhurst by 10 points.
In June Dewhurst challenged Cruz, a Cuban-American, to a debate in Spanish, but Cruz declined. Latinos made up 24 percent of registered voters in the 2008 election and should play a key role in the election. Cruz, however, has a 78-19 advantage among Latino voters in the new poll.
Anti-tax group Club for Growth launched $1.5 million in ads attacking Dewhurst. Cruz has become a tea party favorite, drawing the support of anti-government groups across the country. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed Cruz before the May primary.
The Cruz campaign announced Wednesday that it had missed a campaign filing deadline. They submitted the disclosure, required under federal campaign finance law, on Monday, 56 days after the May 15 deadline. Cruz had to pay a $200 fine for his failure to meet the deadline.