by Thomas Valentine
A poll was released earlier this week that provided a little bit of a shock for Republicans: according to Quinnipiac, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) holds only a 3-point lead over Democrat challenger Beto O’Rourke.
The release of the poll immediately caused some panic on the Right as well as some frothing at the mouth on the Left (and among liberal Republicans who loathe Cruz for actually trying to hold them to conservative principles). O’Rourke is a darling of progressives as a young-ish, far-left, attractive face who can raise millions of dollars. They’re hoping that toppling a stalwart like Cruz will finally make their dream of turning Texas blue come true.
But not so fast. The Left and their friends in the media pointed to Texas’s March primaries as a bellwether to see which side was more engaged. Democrats did indeed have their highest turnout in decades — since the George Wallace days, as a matter of fact, with just over 1 million people voting in the contested Democratic primary that O’Rourke won. But there’s just one problem: Ted Cruz still received more votes than O’Rourke and the rest of the Democrats combined in a basically uncontested GOP primary, coming in at 1.3 million total. And it’s not like there was a marquee statewide race elsewhere that was driving Republicans to vote in the primary — none of the incumbents for statewide office faced a serious primary challenge.
David Byler of The Weekly Standard analyzed the poll and made several good points. One poll is not something to panic over. Polling naturally creates outliers. If those outliers become a trend, then there’s a problem, but even that’s not always the case, as we saw in 2016. The fundamentals of the GOP in Texas are still strong, as they’ve won virtually all recent statewide and presidential elections comfortably. Byler explains that the narrative positing an increasing Hispanic population will turn Texas blue hasn’t panned out. In fact, despite changing demographics, Texas turned more Republican in the 1990s and has held steady in the 2000s and 2010s. The slightly closer margin for Trump in 2016 was more likely due to the unpopularity of Trump, even among some Republican-leaning voters.
In short? Don’t panic over the poll. Cruz is still the overwhelming favorite, and while it may be closer than expected, that would most likely be due to events in Washington.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore