Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) may be facing tough reelection fight in November's midterm election. A Quinnipiac poll released on Thursday showed that Cruz leads Democratic challenger, Beto O'Rourke, by only three percentage points.
O'Rourke, a thrice-elected U.S. Congressman who represents El Paso, experienced a surge of campaign contributions during the first quarter of 2018. Between January and April, O'Rourke raised over $6.7 million coming from more than 141,000 individual donors. Cruz raised a less than half that amount during the same time period.
Beto O’Rourke is within the margin of error of Ted Cruz in the Texas senate race. Cruz 47 O’Rourke 44 MOE +/-3.6%… https://t.co/oNC7H33RgF— Kyle Griffin (@Kyle Griffin)1524073208.0
O'Rourke's campaign has relied heavily upon email and social media to reach voters and has rejected PAC money. He has also made himself constantly accessible to voters by live-streaming his travels as he campaigns throughout the Lone Star State.
Beto O'Rourke is now within three points of taking Ted Cruz's Senate seat, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.… https://t.co/SIK3QkVGLS— VICE News (@VICE News)1524075561.0
In what would normally be daunting electoral prospects for a Democratic senatorial candidate in deep-red Texas, the "blue wave" that has been propelling Democrats to victory statehouses and special elections across the country may also be contributing to the tightening of the race. Texas last sent a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1988.
There are wide party, gender, age and racial gaps, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN- uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds:
O'Rourke gets 87 - 9 percent support from Democrats and 51 - 37 percent backing from independent voters, as Republicans go to Cruz 88 - 6 percent;
Men back Cruz 51 - 40 percent, while women go 47 percent for O'Rourke and 43 percent for Cruz;
Voters 18 to 34 years old go Democratic 50 - 34 percent, while voters over 65 years old go Republican 50 - 43 percent;
White voters back Cruz 59 - 34 percent, as O'Rourke leads 78 - 18 percent among black voters and 51 - 33 percent among Hispanic voters.
But while growing Democratic voter enthusiasm is certainly assisting O'Rourke's rise in the polls, independent voters appear to be giving the Senate hopeful an additional push toward a potential upset victory, according to the poll.
At 25 percent each, immigration and health care are the most important issues in their U.S. Senate vote, with 22 percent for the economy and 16 percent for gun policy.
Voters say Cruz would do a better job than O'Rourke on a number of issues:
51 - 35 percent that Cruz would do a better job on the economy;
49 - 36 percent for Cruz on taxes;
43 percent say Cruz would do a better job on health care, as 42 percent say O'Rourke would be better;
46 - 38 percent that Cruz would be better on immigration;
50 - 37 percent that Cruz would be better on gun policy.
The Quinnipiac poll gave O'Rourke a 14 point lead over Cruz among independents, 51 to 37 percent, respectively. Young voters also favor O'Rourke over Cruz by 16 points, while older voters prefer Cruz by seven points.
Ted Cruz in an increasingly close Texas senate race. Quinnipiac poll: Republican Cruz - 47%, Democrat O’Rourke -… https://t.co/Awpab4lDPS— PacificBerry (@PacificBerry)1524080969.0
Trump's poor favorability ratings in Texas may be giving O'Rourke an additional boost. His approval/disapproval ratings in Texas are 43 to 57 percent. Cruz's incumbency is also defined by his own lackluster approval ratings.
Trump's approval rating in Texas via new Quinnipiac poll just out: Approve 43% Disapprove 52%— Ryan Struyk (@Ryan Struyk)1524073164.0
"Sen. Cruz gets lackluster grades, including a 47 - 45 percent job approval rating and a 46 - 44 percent favorability rating," the Poll said. "O'Rourke gets a 30 - 16 percent favorability rating, but 53 percent of Texas voters don't know enough about him to form an opinion of him."
Interestingly, voter sentiment over Trump's handling of the economy has improved among Democrats.
Who is more responsible for the state of the economy? (via new Quinnipiac poll) One year ago: Obama 66%, Trump 18%… https://t.co/27pm8gLi1S— Ryan Struyk (@Ryan Struyk)1523463044.0
"Democrats have had a target on Sen. Ted Cruz's back, and they may be hitting the mark. Once expected to 'cruise' to reelection, the incumbent is in a tight race with Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. "The key may well be independent voters. O'Rourke's 51 - 37 percent lead among that group is key to his standing today. But Texas remains a strong GOP state so O'Rourke will need the independent strength to pull the upset."
The survey polled 1,029 registered Texas voters and has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points.
Cruz is a conservative firebrand among Republicans. The former prosecutor and Canadian-born son of Cuban refugees ran unsuccessfully for the 2016 Republican nomination for president, but ultimately lost to President Donald Trump, who during the campaign nicknamed Cruz "Lyin' Ted."
Cruz made a name for himself by subscribing to "birtherism," a movement started in 2011 by Trump that accused Obama of not being born in the United States. Cruz joined in Trump's calls for Obama to release his birth certificate, which has been by many as a racist smear campaign against the 44th president. Cruz is a staunch social conservative and an anti-immigration hawk.
In 1999, O'Rourke founded Stanton Street Technology, an internet services and software company. O'Rourke, known locally for his casual demeanor, driving an old Toyota pickup truck, and hanging out at a local diner for breakfast, is a proponent of legalizing marijuana and has the potential to become a new darling of the left should be best Cruz in November's election.