Poll: Cruz leads O'Rourke by 3 in Texas Senate race

Poll: Cruz leads O'Rourke by 3 in Texas Senate race
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The race for the Senate in Texas is a dead heat, with Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMichael Bennet declared cancer-free, paving way for possible 2020 run Booker, Harris have missed most Senate votes O'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign MORE (R) leading Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeSanders announces first endorsements in South Carolina On The Money: Cain 'very committed' to Fed bid despite opposition | Pelosi warns no US-UK trade deal if Brexit harms Irish peace | Ivanka Trump says she turned down World Bank job Ex-Obama campaign manager: Sanders can't beat Trump MORE by only three points, according to a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released Thursday.

The survey by the left-leaning pollster shows Cruz slightly ahead with 48 percent of the vote compared to O'Rourke's 45 percent. That's well within the poll's 4-point margin of error. 

The PPP poll comes a day after a Reuters/Ipsos/University of Virginia Center for Politics survey showed O'Rourke with a slight 2-point advantage over Cruz. Taken together, the polls underscore the increasingly competitive nature of the race.

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O'Rourke, a three-term representative, mounted what appeared to be a long-shot bid for Cruz's Senate seat last year. Texas hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate in three decades, and statewide offices are dominated by Republicans.

But O'Rourke has managed to close the polling gap with Cruz in recent months.

The Cook Political Report, an election handicapper rates the race as leaning Republican, meaning that Cruz has a slight advantage in an otherwise competitive race.

The PPP survey also showed that more Texas voters disapprove of the job Cruz has done in office than approve, at 48-43 percent. 

At the same time, slightly more respondents reported having an unfavorable opinion of O'Rourke than a favorable one, at 40-39 percent. The survey found that 21 percent weren't sure about their opinion of O'Rourke, suggesting that he may not have the widespread name recognition in the state that Cruz, who is running for his second term.

The two Senate candidates are set to hold their first debate of the general election season on Friday.

The PPP poll was commissioned by Protect Our Care, a group opposing Republicans' health care agenda.

PPP surveyed 613 registered Texas voters from Sept. 19-20.