Cruz opens double-digit lead in Texas primary runoff

Cruz, a Tea Party favorite, leads Dewhurst 52-42 percent, according to a survey released Monday by Public Policy Polling (PPP). Cruz has doubled his lead from a similar poll two weeks ago.

Coupled with high-profile endorsements by prominent Republicans including former Gov. Sarah Palin (Alaska), former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Cruz is now poised to win election to the U.S. Senate despite never having run for political office before.

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"Cruz's victory is driven by four things: the Tea Party, the enthusiasm of his supporters, a generational divide within the Texas Republican ranks and the lack of regard the party base currently holds for Rick Perry," said PPP polling director Tom Jensen in a statement.

Cruz takes three-quarters of self-described Tea Party voters in the poll, and leads 55-40 percent among those who have cast ballots already during early voting. Nearly two out of three voters who describe themselves as "very excited" about voting in the runoff say they back the Tea Party favorite.

It's a sign that Dewhurst might have been targeting the wrong audience. While he holds a significant lead among seniors (56-39 percent), older Texans are more likely to be "not that excited" about voting. Meanwhile, Cruz is posting huge leads among younger voters, including a 60-33 percent advantage among those under 45 years of age.

Cruz is also undeniably buoyed by the support of prominent Republican backers. By a 31-24 percent margin, voters surveyed said they were more likely to vote for a candidate backed by Palin, who rallied with Cruz on Friday.

But Dewhurst's high-profile ally — Texas Gov. Perry — might be doing more harm than good. The governor's image is still bruised by his abandoned presidential run, and voters say by a 35-16 percent margin his support is less likely to make them vote for a candidate.