Each year, nonpartisan group, The Texas Lyceum, surveys Texans on a variety o topics. The 2018 Texas Lyceum Poll, conducted July 9-26, asked Texans about health care and the upcoming midterm elections.
Joshua Blank is co-conductor of the poll and managing researcher of the Texas Politics Project.
“Overarchingly, the incumbent Republican officeholders are showing strong leads,” he says. “We see [Gov.] Greg Abbott leading Lupe Valdez by 16 points, [Lt. Gov.] Dan Patrick leading Mike Collier by 10, and Ken Paxton leading Justin Nelson in the attorney general’s race by 10. The one difference is in the senate race where we only see a two point lead for Ted Cruz over Beto O’Rourke.”
Blank says O’Rourke himself is on factor.
“Beto O’Rourke is a different candidate than the other democratic candidates on the ballot,” Blank says. “He’s obviously a very talented campaigner and he’s clearly a prolific fundraiser. And yeah Ted Cruz is facing a real serious challenge. I wouldn’t say that the other democratic challengers aren’t serious, but when you think about candidate quality Beto O’Rourke is not only a notch about them, but he’s really a notch higher than most challenging candidates, it seems, at this point in the race.”
Cruz, too, is a little different than other Republican officeholders.
“Running for president relatively early in his first tern in the senate, one of the things you have to do with that is distinguish your self among Republicans. He’s head recovered from that, but i think it’s still part of the recovery process,” he says.
“Finally,” Blank says, “I think the other thing that hurts Cruz relative to Abbott, Patrick and to a lesser extend Paxton, is the fact that his brand was so clearly tied with being an insurgent when he went to the Senate, when was first elected. He was sent to… throw bombs and attack the system. But when you go from being in the minority to the majority you can’t really do that any more. And all of a sudden you have to be part of the solution, you’re part of the government, and I think that creates some complexities too.”
Blanks says that in November, the contest will look different than it does today.
“I do expect these numbers to expand as we get closer to election day. It’s still very early in the season. Most people aren’t paying a ton of attention. And if we look at those undecided voters in that Cruz-O’Rourke race, they overwhelmingly lean republican. So we’d expect them to “come home” so we say, as the fall campaign gets underway.”
The 2018 Texas Lyceum Poll also focused on how Texans feel bout health care and the economy.
Blank also says that one of the unique things about the Lyceum Poll is it’s focus on the specific interests of the adult population of Texas – not just people who are registered to vote or those who are likely to vote.
“That’s really important, especially for a poll focused on policy in a state that is as young and diverse as Texas. Texas’ adult population is very young and very divers but as you get to registered voters, much less so and you think about ‘likely voters’ it’s significantly less than that. But policy effects ever body.”