Showdown In Texas: Can Beto O’Rourke Actually Unseat Ted Cruz?
Image above: Senator Ted Cruz (left) and Congressman Beto O’Rourke (right) from their debate on September 21, 2018.
While incumbent Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) continues to hold a lead over Congressman Beto O’Rourke, an Ipsos/Reuters/University of Virginia poll suggests O’Rourke’s grassroots campaign has him leading among likely voters:
U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, leads Republican incumbent Ted Cruz by 2 percentage points among likely voters, according to an Ipsos online poll released Wednesday in conjunction with Reuters and the University of Virginia. O’Rourke has been closing the gap over the last several months, but this is the first poll that puts him ahead of Cruz.
Forty-seven percent of likely voters told Reuters they would vote for O’Rourke, while 45 percent said they would cast their ballot for Cruz. Three percent said they would vote for “Other,” and 5 percent said “None.” The margin of error on that portion of the poll was 3.5 percentage points.
Ipsos Vice President, Chris Jackson said their firm is attempting to take in voter enthusiasm into account as a way to gauge possible turnout, asking respondents the likelihood they would vote in the midterm elections. “More Democrats are registering at the highest part of the scale, at the 10, than the Republicans,” Jackson told the Texas Tribune, “It demonstrates how Democrats are mobilized. This election is going to be really competitive and it’s going be very hard fought,” he continued.
Of note, the Ipsos poll does not represent voters reactions after the debate held this past Friday. Also, the Real Clear Politics average from other polling firms show Cruz holding onto a slight lead.
The Ipsos poll also measures only likely voters, which may bring false returns when a grassroots candidate is running — their data on the energy following his campaign may play a key roll in the November election. O’Rourke’s campaign for the Senate will bring voters to the polls which could be key for Justice Democrat-backed candidates Lorie Burch (TX-3), Vanessa Adia (TX-12), Adrienne Bell (TX-14), and Linsey Fagan (TX-26) to pull off upsets in Republican-held districts.
However, the opposite could also give O’Rourke a boost against Cruz. Those candidates running on a Social Democratic platform could bring first time and non-voters to the polls. Polling methodology which uses ‘likely’ instead of ‘registered’ voters in the race for Senate may underestimate the true support for O’Rourke within Texas.
Texas has not had a Democratic Senator since 1993 when Bob Krueger lost a special election to Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison. A Democratic candidate for Senator hasn’t been competitive since Loyd Bentson’s 1988 victory when he won 59.2% of the vote. While Texas is still seen by outsiders as being deeply conservative, progressive candidates had success during the 2018 primary cycling — signaling a possible change in state politics.
Cruz and O’Rourke are scheduled for two further debates on September 30th and October 16th prior, to the November 6th general election. In a race this close, the remaining debates could play a pivotal role in determining the eventual winner.