TX Senate: New poll shows Ted Cruz leading David Dewhurst
Earlier this week, I noted that an internal poll from Ted Cruz’s campaign showed him with a 9-point lead over David Dewhurst in the runoff for the GOP’s nod in the United States Senate race in Texas. Internal polls, while valuable to a campaign, tend to overstate performance of a candidate. So while it was a good sign for Cruz, there was still some healthy skepticism.
But a new survey in the race from Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that Cruz does indeed lead Dewhurst, though by 5 points — a smaller lead than the internal, though outside of the margin of error, ahead of the July 31st runoff (emphasis mine):
PPP’s first poll of the Texas Senate runoff finds Ted Cruz with a surprising 49-44 lead and a much more enthusiastic cadre of supporters than former front runner David Dewhurst.
Cruz’s lead expands to a whooping 59-36 margin over Dewhurst among voters who describe themselves as ‘very excited’ about voting in the election. The lower turnout is, the better Cruz’s chances will be. Dewhurst leads 51-43 with ‘somewhat excited’ voters and 50-36 with those who say they are ‘not that excited.’ The big question is whether those less enthused folks will actually bother to turn out or not.
This race is one of the most stark examples of the Tea Party movement propelling a candidate that we’ve seen to date. 40% of voters identify themselves as members of that movement and Cruz has a 71-26 advantage with them. Dewhurst leads 57-34 with non-Tea Partiers, and they are 50% of the electorate, but it’s not nearly enough to drown out Cruz’s advantage with that group.
The large name recognition advantage Dewhurst has enjoyed throughout the campaign has pretty much disappeared. 85% of runoff voters have an opinion about him, and Cruz is not far behind at 81%. We frequently found in our earlier polling that Cruz was winning with voters who knew him, but that he was losing overall because of the name recognition gap. That’s not a problem anymore. Cruz’s net favorability of +31 (56/25) is better than Dewhurst’s +19 (52/33). Since our final pre primary poll Cruz’s net fav has improved by 25 points, while Dewhurst’s has declined by 17.
In a runoff, turnout is key. Voters that describe themselves as “very excited” are going to be the real fact in the outcome. Also, a series of negative ads run against Cruz seemed to have backfired on Dewhurst. Cruz has also run negative ads and he’s getting help from outside groups, including the Club for Growth, which has just dropped another $1.5 million in Texas. But Cruz has been able to parlay the attacks from Dewhurst into real support, where the latter hasn’t been nearly as successful.
There are still a couple of weeks left, but it looks like Cruz be able to give the Tea Party movement its second big win in Senate primaries this cycle.
Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore