- The Washington Times
Thursday, October 11, 2018

After a poll showed a Democrat with an actual lead in deep-red Texas, the latest sample appears to show Republican Sen. Ted Cruz holding a substantial lead over his Democratic challenger.

A poll by Quinnipiac University released Thursday shows the incumbent Mr. Cruz with a nine-point edge over Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke. That’s the same advantage Mr. Cruz enjoyed in Quinnipiac’s survey last month.

Mr. O’Rourke has ridden a wave of media celebrity and funding from bluer coastal areas to emerge as a surprisingly competitive candidate for the Texas senate seat, according to numerous profiles and an outlier poll for Reuters and the University of Virginia that showed him with a narrow lead over Mr. Cruz in late September.

With the new Quinnipiac figure, Mr. Cruz now leads by 6.6 points in the Real Clear Politics average, which slots the race as “leans GOP.”

“Is the Beto bubble bursting or just hissing away with a slow leak?” said Peter A. Brown, the assistant director of Quinnipiac’s polling. “With less than four weeks until Election Day, Congressman Beto O’Rourke has hit a wall.”

On the other hand, Mr. Cruz has been unable to build the sort of double-digit lead other Republicans enjoy in other statewide Texas races. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, for example, holds a commanding +19.7 lead in his re-election campaign against his Democratic challenger, Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

Mr. Abbott’s runaway campaign should also help Mr. Cruz down the homestretch, according to political experts in the Lone Star State. With Mr. Abbott and others cruising to victory, they are expected to dedicate some of their money toward a Republican ticket and platform in the final weeks.

The reassuring news for Mr. Cruz comes after the bruising fight over Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Mr. Cruz is one of the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, a position that presented him a golden opportunity a month before Election Day to deliver on a topic Republican voters tell pollsters is important to them.

In the aftermath of that vote, Mr. Cruz finds himself ahead of Mr. O’Rourke in favorability ratings, too. Mr. Cruz has a 52-44 percent favorability rating while Mr. O’Rourke is two points underwater on the same scale, according to Quinnipiac.

“The election is far from over, but Sen. Cruz would have to suffer a major collapse for him to lose,” Mr. Brown said. “That is even more unlikely since 97 percent of Cruz voters say they are sure they won’t change their minds.”

The men are scheduled to have their final debate Oct. 16 in San Antonio.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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