The just-released Quinnipiac University survey of some 1,029 registered Texas voters says incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz can count on 47 percent of the vote, while Democratic challenger Beto O’rourke has 44 percent. That three-point lead for Cruz makes this race too close to call, with an election looming in November.
But plenty of experts in the Lone Star State are looking at these numbers and finding something wrong.
Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, says he thinks Quinnipiac’s poll numbers are sound, but that the “too close to call” interpretation might not be right.
“You have to look at the timing of this poll above all,” Henson says. “Historically, when we look at a poll that’s the larger pool of registered voters, we know very well that not all of these people are going to show up to vote in November.”
Henson says Democrats run stronger in April polls than they do in November elections. Look no further than the 2014 gubernatorial race, where Democrat Wendy Davis trailed Gov. Greg Abbott by a surmountable 12 points in an April poll, but lost by 20 points that November.
Digging deeper into the Cruz-O’Rourke numbers, Henson points out that 53 percent of those polled said they had no opinion of the Democrat.
“As you look at this name recognition factor, I think what you have to conclude, at least to some degree, is that… these assessments are probably not going to look like this after we’ve run a campaign, and as we get close to voting time,” Henson says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.