Early polls show Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke is giving Sen. Ted Cruz a run for his money in the lead-up to the mid-term elections in November.
Registered voters in Texas support Cruz 47 percent to O’Rourke’s 44 percent, according to a Tuesday Quinnipiac University Poll. The poll contains one significant caveat: more than half of those surveyed do not know anything about O’Rourke.
Cruz’s Democratic opponent has a 30 percent favorability rating, while 53 percent of voters don’t know enough about O’Rourke to form an opinion. More than 47 percent of people hold a favorable view of Cruz — a Republican who was swept into office on the heels of the Tea Party wave.
Texas voters “like Ted Cruz as a person” — 47 – 38 percent — while nearly 47 percent of voters are undecided about their feelings toward O’Rourke, the poll noted. Quinnipiac pollsters are warning people to not take Cruz’s victory as a given in the heavily red state of Texas.
“Democrats have had a target on Sen. Ted Cruz’s back, and they may be hitting the mark. Once expected to ‘cruise’ to re-election, the incumbent is in a tight race with Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, noted in the poll.
The poll was conducted April 12-17 among 1,029 self-identified registered voters and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. Voters also believe Cruz would do a batter job on the economy (51-35 percent), taxes (49-36 percent), immigration (46-38 percent), and gun control policy (53-37 percent).
Republicans outperformed Democrats during Texas’ primary elections. Democratic turnout was up 84 percent from four years ago, but Republicans added to their record numbers from 2014, according to data from the secretary of state’s office. GOP turnout was the highest since the 2010 midterm.
Republicans easily power-armed Democrats at the polls — 1.54 million to 1.04 million — suggesting O’Rourke and Lupe Valdez, who is running to unseat Gov. Greg Abbott, could face stiff winds come November. Neither candidate is considered formidable opponents for the likes of Cruz and Abbott.
Quinnipiac’s poll comes as a separate Washington Post-ABC News survey on Monday shows Democrats’ advantage over Republicans ahead of the mid-term elections is slipping.
Overall, 47 percent of registered voters prefer Democratic candidates in their district, while 43 percent favor the GOP, they told WaPo. The four-point margin compares with a 12-point advantage Democrats held in January — less than a month before the February shooting in Florida.
Enthusiasm is also shifting, according to WaPo’s polling. Nearly 68 percent of both Republican-leaning and Democratic-leaning registered voters say they are certain they will vote in November elections, which contrasts with The Post-ABC polling before the 2010 and 2014 midterm cycles. Republicans averaged a double-digit advantage in intentions to vote, and Democrats suffered major losses in both years.
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