Poll: Cruz up 6 points on O'Rourke in Texas Senate race

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Prospects for Trump gun deal grow dimmer Ted Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report MORE (R-Texas) has a 6-point edge over Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) in his bid for a second term in the Senate, according to a new University of Texas–Texas Tribune poll released Friday.

Cruz gets the support of 51 percent of likely Texas voters, while 45 percent support O’Rourke, 2 percent back Libertarian candidate Neal Dikeman and 2 percent said they would support another candidate.

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O’Rourke, who has garnered national headlines for firing up Texas’s liberal voting blocs and making the race in the Lone Star State significantly more competitive than expected, has found success among independents. The congressman has a 12-point lead over Cruz among independent voters, with 51 percent saying they’d support the Democrat and 39 percent saying they’d support the incumbent senator.

However, Cruz’s attempts to paint O’Rourke as too liberal for Texas appear to be paying dividends. While 49 percent of Republicans said they had no opinion of the congressman in the UT–TT poll in June, only 9 percent say the same in the poll released Friday. And while 42 percent of Republicans from the June poll said they had an unfavorable opinion of O’Rourke, that number jumped to 83 percent in Friday’s poll.

“The major Senate candidates were trying to mobilize their partisans, without a lot of attempt to get voters to cross over. And it looks like they’ve done that,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “If you look for Republican defections to Beto O’Rourke, they’re not there. But the independents break to the Democrat instead of the Republican in that race.”

Cruz may also be buoyed by the fact that his net-favorability rating is positive while O’Rourke’s is negative. Likely voters have a favorable view of Cruz by a 51-44 margin, while they have an unfavorable view of O’Rourke by a 49-44 margin.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE’s support for Cruz could also help the Republican’s reelection efforts. After becoming fierce rivals during the 2016 presidential primary, Trump and Cruz have become allies both in Washington and in Texas.

Trump held a rally for Cruz in Houston in which he praised the senator, to which Cruz responded, "I am honored that President Trump is here endorsing and supporting my campaign, and I look forward to campaigning alongside him in 2020.” 

About 48 percent of likely voters in Texas approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 45 percent disapprove.

All these factors have helped Cruz maintain an edge in the polls, albeit a smaller lead than is usually seen in statewide races in Texas. While the Cook Political Report rates the race as a “toss-up,” an averaging of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics, which does not yet include Friday’s UT–TT poll, has Cruz up 7 points.

The UT–TT poll surveyed 927 likely voters from Oct. 15 to 21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.22 percentage points.