Ted Cruz gaining on David Dehurst in Texas Senate primary
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been focusing heavily on primary challenges to Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dick Lugar (R-IN). This pair represent nearly everything wrong with the Republican Party in Washington as they’ve both been a consistant vote for expanding government and blowing taxpayer dollars.
There is another Senate race that deserve attention, one that we haven’t covered much. Over in Texas, David Dewhurst, who is backed by the GOP establishment nationally and in the state to succeed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, is still leading the pack, but Ted Cruz, who has received support from many of the same conservative grassroots groups backing candidates in other states, is quickly closing in:
Every time [Public Policy Polling] polls Texas the Republican Senate primary gets closer and closer. What was a 29 point lead for David Dewhurst in September has now been cut all the way down to 12 points. Dewhurst is at 38% to 26% for Ted Cruz, 8% for Tom Leppert, and 7% for Craig James.
Cruz’s support has increased from 12% to 18% to 26% over our last three polls. Meanwhile Dewhurst has remained stagnant in the 36-41% range. Cruz’s name recognition has increased from 29% to 48% with Republican primary voters since January and the change has almost all been positive. His favorability’s gone from 15/14 to 31/17. The other candidates have seen just modest gains in name recognition or none at all. Dewhurst’s favorability is 47/22, Leppert’s is 20/15, and James remains more disliked than popular with GOP voters at 14/21.
Dewhurst’s superior name recognition is the main reason he continues to hold a lead of any size over Cruz. Among voters who are familiar with Cruz- whether they have a positive opinion of him or not- Cruz leads Dewhurst 39-34. That suggests that as Cruz’s profile continues to increase this race may continue to get closer.
It is the furthest right segment of the Republican electorate where Cruz is gaining momentum. Among Tea Party voters he and Dewhurst are tied at 35%. Dewhurst is winning easily, 41-20, with non-Tea Partiers. There’s also a bit of a generational divide with Dewhurst leading by 26 points among seniors but holding only a 6-8 point lead with voters in the younger age groups.
To be sure, Cruz still has a long way to go if he hopes win on May 29th, the date of the Texas primary. However, Cruz is much more conservative from a fiscal perspective than Dewhurst and his message is resonating with voters in the state. If he can keep it up, with help from conservative groups, he may do what no one would have thought possible several months ago.