Elections

Gap shrinks in Ted Cruz-Beto O’Rourke race with only a week to go, latest poll shows

Cruz, O’Rourke call high early voting turnout ‘encouraging’, ‘defining moment of truth’

Republican Senator Ted Cruz and his challenger, Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke both greeted supporters in Houston on October 28, 2018. The Texas Senate race is one of the most closely watched in the U.S.
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Republican Senator Ted Cruz and his challenger, Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke both greeted supporters in Houston on October 28, 2018. The Texas Senate race is one of the most closely watched in the U.S.

A new poll Monday shows that Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz holds a 5-percentage point lead over Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso.

Just a week away from the Nov. 6 midterm election, this Quinnipiac University poll shows that Cruz’s lead has dropped to 51-46 percent among likely voters in the hottest race in Texas.

“Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz remains in front, with a slim lead over U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “O’Rourke is within striking distance, but time is running out in a race that Democrats have hoped would deliver an upset victory that would be key to a Senate takeover.”

This latest poll shows a tightening in the race, since Cruz held a 54-46 percent lead earlier this month.

This battle for the U.S. Senate seat in Texas has become the most watched and most expensive Senate race across the country.

Many are watching to see if Cruz can win his first re-election bid or to see if O’Rourke can become the first Texas Democrat to win a statewide race in more than two decades.

The two candidates are now barnstorming the state, holding rallies and encouraging Texans to head to polls early or on Election Day.

The Cook Political Report has rated this race a “toss-up.”

The Quinnipiac Poll shows just 3 percent of Texas likely voters remain undecided in this race. And just 2 percent of those who could name one of the Senate candidates indicated they might change their mind before the election.

Poll breakdown

Cruz holds a strong lead with Republicans, who back him 96-3 percent. And O’Rourke claims a lead with Independent voters, 56-40, and Democrats, 96-2 percent.

Men are lining up behind Cruz, 56,39 percent, and women are supporting O’Rourke, 52-45 percent.

At the same time, Cruz draws support from white voters, 67-30 percent, as O’Rourke claims support from black voters, 86-12 percent, and Hispanic voters, 60-36 percent, the poll shows.

“Senator Cruz is ahead due to his winning the ‘gender gap,’ ” Brown said. “He wins men 56 – 39 percent, while Representative O’Rourke can manage only a 52 – 45 percent edge among women.”

This Quinnipiac survey was conducted Oct. 22-28, reaching 1,078 likely Texas voters on landlines and cellphones. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The poll also shows that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott leads 54 percent to 40 percent over Democrat Lupe Valdez in his re-election bid.

Midterm election

This costly race recently tipped the scales at more than $100 million, when O’Rourke reported raising more than $70 million, compared with the nearly $30 million raised by Cruz, according to the most recent campaign finance reports filed earlier this month with the Federal Election Commission.

These numbers reflect the amount raised since O’Rourke entered the race last year.

Republicans have said they believe O’Rourke’s election bid “is a serious threat” to Cruz’s re-election.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are among those who have traveled to Texas to campaign on Cruz’s behalf.

Early voting in the Nov. 6 election runs through Friday.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley
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