GOP pollster: National attention could hurt Beto O'Rourke in Texas Senate race

Republican pollster Conor Maguire says the large amount of national attention on Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke mum on run for Texas governor Beto O'Rourke, Willie Nelson financially back Texas Democrats in elections bill fight Texans split on whether Abbott deserves reelection: poll MORE (D-Texas) could ultimately hurt his bid to unseat Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump's Texas endorsement boosts a scandal-plagued incumbent while imperiling a political dynasty Trio of Senate Republicans urges Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia MORE (R-Texas). 

"It is interesting to see the amount of national money coming in, and having Beto O'Rourke being this Democrat, national figure, I'm fine with that. Let Democrats think they've got some shot in Texas," Maguire told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking" on Tuesday. 

"But in Texas, people stand for the national anthem. People stand for the pledge of allegiance," he continued, referring to a video showing O'Rourke defending NFL players who kneel during the anthem to protest police violence.

"Texas is the Lone Star State, they are very strong, believe that themselves or the most important things don't really need national money from Hollywood, and East Coast liberals coming in, and so I think you see a lot of that blowing back on Beto," he continued. 

In the viral video, O'Rourke said he "can think of nothing more American" than the players protesting.

O'Rourke's defense of NFL players protests led Cruz to release an ad on Monday, portraying him as out of touch. 

“Nothing more American? Liberal Hollywood was thrilled,” the ad said. “But do Texans agree?”

Democratic pollster Nancy Zdunkewicz, who is from Texas, fired back, saying Cruz was the candidate who was out of touch. 

“That’s really funny that you would say that because this is a candidate who's raising money from small-dollar donations, and going to every county in Texas to campaign," Zdunkewicz, managing editor at Democracy Corps, said of O'Rourke.

"Ted Cruz is the one who's using super PAC money, and who's taking corporate donations. So I find it ironic that that's the point that you're going to try to make about him." 

Recent polls have shown O'Rourke gaining momentum and in a tight race with Cruz in the red state.

An Emerson College poll released Monday showed Cruz up by one point, 38 percent  to 37 percent, an edge within the margin of error.

Another poll last week by NBC News-Marist found Cruz leading O'Rourke by 4 points.

— Julia Manchester