Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com
There’s more bad news for Ted Cruz in his effort to hang onto his Senate seat. A new shock poll released by Quinnipiac on Tuesday revealed that the Texas race is suddenly neck and neck. Cruz is up by just 47 to 44 percent over his challenger, Democratic El Paso Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
But to hear it from Cruz, he simply does not care what the numbers say.
“I recognize that every two to four years the press and Democrats got very excited about turning Texas blue,” he told Bloomberg News. “But that’s not going to happen this year.”
But if Cruz doesn’t want Texas to shift toward blue, he’ll have to do more than insist that it won’t.
The poll also showed fewer than half of Texas voters approved of Cruz’s job performance or had a favorable opinion of him, at 47 percent and 46 percent, respectively.
O’Rourke is currently not well known with voters, but is 14 points above water among those who do. His disciplined strategy of visiting every Texas county and talking to voters in both parties has likely helped him there.
Further, Cruz is getting walloped in the fundraising game. O’Rourke famously eschews money from PACs in favor of small donors. Yet he raised a staggering $6.7 million last quarter — more than twice what Cruz pulled in.
For the most part, Cruz has not even tried to pretend he’s taking this race seriously. He stooped to attacking O’Rourke for not using his real first name — a strange play for a man whose actual first name is Rafael. He also seemed unconcerned by how available O’Rourke is making himself to voters. Cruz has opted instead to hold secluded events where private jets can pick him up.
But behind closed doors, Cruz seems to understand this isn’t going to be as easy as he makes it sound. At a recent event with donors, he warned that “stark-raving nuts” Democrats will “crawl over broken glass in November” to vote.
And polling experts now believe that is a possibility. Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics says that he believes Cruz’s seat could be “in play.” And FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver says Cruz is still “a favorite” but “could actually lose.”
There is no longer a doubt: The GOP will now have to fight for their Senate majority. And a major battlefield of that fight is going to be Texas.