The Texas primaries have just completed, and both Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke won their respective primaries for Texas Senate. When the Republican and Democrat ultimately face each other in the Senate race in November, who will win? Unless a third party candidate upsets the race, the election could come down to O’Rourke or Cruz. The latest polls are still showing Cruz favored for the lead, but O’Rourke might have a chance to gain ground if he’s able to raise awareness. But it won’t be easy. (After you read this story, take our poll at the very end and let us know if you would vote for Beto O’Rourke or Ted Cruz in a Senate race.)
President Donald Trump’s standing in Texas could affect the votes that Cruz receives in November. And right now, that’s not looking so great. In Gallup’s 2017 year-long average, 54 percent of Texas adults disapproved of Trump. And a February Texas Tribune-University of Texas poll showed that 46 percent of registered voters approved and disapproved of Trump. In fact, Gallup has changed Texas’ political rating from “leaning Republican” to “competitive.”
Cruz’s approval rating is also split. In the same Texas Tribune-University of Texas poll, 40 percent approved of Cruz and 41 percent disapproved. Meanwhile, O’Rourke is seeing large numbers attending his Texas rallies and he’s even outpacing Cruz in his latest campaign donations.
But all of this may not be enough to shake up the Senate race, at least not yet. Most pollsters are still currently favoring Cruz over O’Rourke. In a race between the two, The Washington Post reported that Cook Political Report has classified the race as “Likely Republican” and Inside Elections classified it “Solid Republican.” As of February 28, CNN ranks the race as “likely Republican” (downgraded from “solid Republican.”) Real Clear Politics ranks a matchup of Cruz vs. O’Rourke as “Likely GOP.” Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight found that since 2010, 85 percent of candidates who were ranked as “likely to win” at this point in the campaign went on to actually win.
In December, statistician Dean Strachan ranked Cruz as having an 84 percent chance of winning when only considering fundamentals such as a state’s partisan leaning, whether or not a candidate is an incumbent, and by how much a party won its national House of Representatives vote.
However, CNN did caution not to rely on current polls too much right now. It’s been nearly a year since there was a non-partisan poll of Cruz-O’Rourke that met CNN’s standards. Two recent surveys were from Cruz’s campaign and from a Democratic group. The left-leaning firm, End Citizens United, found in January that Cruz was only leading O’Rourke 45 to 37 percent, with 18 percent undecided. The internal poll from Cruz’s campaign showed Cruz leading O’Rourke by 18 points.
Part of the problem O’Rourke faces is that he is still unknown to many people. A Texas Politics Project poll from February looked into O’Rourke’s favorability rating. The majority of respondents didn’t know or had no opinion of O’Rourke. In fact, 39 percent had no opinion overall. Only post-graduate respondents seemed to know much about him (with 25 percent saying they had no opinion, 20 percent ranking him “very favorable,” and 19 percent ranking him “somewhat favorable” or “neither.”) Even among Democrats specifically, only those who identified as “strong Democrats” seemed to mostly have a strong opinion about O’Rourke. Ross Ramsey, Texas Tribune executive editor, told NPR that O’Rourke’s fundraising and campaigning may help with awareness in the months to come.
So at the moment, it looks like Cruz has the advantage in a race against O’Rourke. But time will tell how that advantage holds. Who would you vote for between the two if the Senate race happened today? Let us know in this unofficial poll below.