Ted Cruz closes in on David Dewhurst
Polls in Texas have recently showed that Ted Cruz, who is being supported by conservative and Tea Party groups, is closing in on David Dewhurst, the establishment pick in the race to fill the seat being left open by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX). But a new poll from the University of Texas shows that Dewhurst’s lead over Cruz is now in single-digits and headed to a runoff:
If the 2012 Texas Republican primary election for the U.S. Senate were held today, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst would fall short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff election, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll.
When asked whom they would support if the 2012 Texas Republican primary election for U.S. Senator were held today, 40 percent of GOP primary voters named Dewhurst, followed by Cruz at 28 percent, and former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert at 15 percent. The leading candidate would need at least 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff election on July 31.
Dewhurst’s lead was even narrower among likely voters, leading Cruz 40 to 31 percent, with Leppert polling at 17 percent. Likely voters are defined by the survey as those who indicate an interest in politics and report voting in most elections (274 respondents in the survey sample said they intended to vote in the GOP primary and were also identified as likely voters).
Daron Shaw, professor of Government at The University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll, said Cruz has been able to position himself to the right of the lieutenant governor for a May 29 Republican primary where that’s a big advantage — and he’s done that in a year in which insurgent candidates have been scoring big wins against establishment Republicans.
“If they’re in a runoff, Dewhurst is in trouble,” Shaw said.
The primary in next Tuesday, May 29th. Cruz probably won’t catch up by then, but he doesn’t have to if it goes to a runoff — and that seems likely at this point. With the runoff not taking place until July 31st, groups backing Cruz, like the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, plenty of time to come in and run ads promiting him and knocking Dewhurst.