Because I've written a few recent posts highlighting worrisome poll numbers and GOP jitters about the Texas Senate race, I feel like I owe it to you to amplify the latest numbers from Quinnipiac -- a pollster that has not been especially friendly to Trump or Republicans in recent years. If Q's new survey is even close to accurate, incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz may be on the verge of his most satisfying victory since, well, his deeply enjoyable hoops triumph over senior Democratic strategist and America's Pope, Jimmy Kimmel:
Take a peek at the internals, and you'll see all sorts of positive news for Cruz:
The Republican is slightly ahead among women, pulling 45 percent of Hispanics, and north of 40 percent among the youngest age demographic? He'll take that every day of the week, thank you very much. Fascinatingly, the survey shows Cruz's favorables (+9) as stronger than O'Rourke's (+1), despite the conventional wisdom that Cruz is widely personally disliked. How can it be that a Kennedy-esque, handsome media star like O'Rourke is losing to Cruz even on this metric? That must be quite a riddle for the national media organizations who have been engaged in embarrassing, Obamaesque worship of "Beto" for months. Why aren't their endless stream of glowing, swooning puff pieces breaking through?
Cruz allies are quick to note that this is remains very much a competitive race, and Republican complacency (see this post) could be a mortal enemy. Democratic enthusiasm and intensity is extremely high. Another poll -- with some comparatively dubious methodology -- shows O'Rourke ahead by two points, but the RCP average likely tells the more accurate story: Cruz is modestly, but not quite comfortably, ahead. O'Rourke is raking in huge donations from large and small donors from all over the country, vastly outspending Cruz statewide. Speaking with national Republicans and a source close to the campaign, I'm told that Cruz's internal numbers have been trending more in the direction of the Q-poll in recent days, with O'Rourke's unfavorables shooting up in the last few weeks.
Some people may attribute that tumble to new revelations about his hit-and-run DUI a number of years ago (he reportedly tried to flee the scene and critics allege that his father, a judge, helped him avoid legal accountability), but the Cruz camp isn't touching it. Even so, the likelier explanation is that the candidate is just too far to the left for the state. His views on policy issues are solidly in the 'progressive' wing of the national party; he's also endorsed impeaching President Trump, and praised NFL anthem kneelers in engaging in the most American conduct he can imagine. Even in a blue year, that ain't Texas. By the way, the Q-poll numbers are even stronger for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who's leading his opponent by 19 points overall. How he's built that lead is impressive:
I'll leave you with a few more results from the national/segmented Reuters Senate polls (GOP up narrowly in Florida and Nevada, and narrowly down in Arizona) -- plus the latest Cruz ad, which leads into the cultural controversy over the national anthem:
The two candidates will debate for the first time on Friday.