Quinnipiac poll shows Ted Cruz in trouble in Texas

C’mon, this “Beto!” thing isn’t really happening, is it? He hates the NRA, supports abortion, supports impeachment, and is in striking distance — in Texas?

Note the spread across age groups. Young adults tilt as heavily towards O’Rourke as Hispanic voters do, although of course there’s plenty of overlap in those two groups.

How unusual is it for a Republican to have a race for Senate this tight in Texas?

Eh. I’m still skeptical of O’Rourke’s chances, and not just because Texas is a red state. Scroll down question by question in Quinnipiac’s data and you’ll see that Cruz leads O’Rourke, sometimes comfortably, on issues like the economy, taxes, immigration, and guns. O’Rourke’s rosy numbers are being driven by the fact that much of the state still has no idea who he is. His favorable rating is 40/13, with 47 percent saying they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion yet. Cruz will spend the next six months educating voters about his anti-gun, pro-choice, pro-impeachment stances. Let’s see what O’Rourke looks like after he’s spent three months getting hit.

On the other hand, who’s better equipped to throw roundhouses in this campaign, the incumbent or the challenger?

When U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced his latest fundraising haul earlier this month – a stunning $6.7 million – it was widely expected to surpass what his rival, Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, brought in over the same period. Now it’s clear by how much: roughly $3.5 million.

Cruz raised $3.2 million in the first three months of this year, according to his campaign.

O’Rourke, an El Paso Democrat, did not outpace just Cruz – he posted one of the top quarterly federal fundraising hauls ever, outside of presidential campaigns.

He more than doubled up Cruz’s financial haul. If you believe, as I do, that political gravity will eventually reassert itself here, that’s good news for Republicans since a dollar wasted on Beto! is a dollar that can’t be spent fruitfully somewhere else. But there’s a dark star lurking that could upset normal gravitational forces in Texas. Namely, if this is accurate, it’s easily the most shocking figure in the poll:

That seems hard to believe, particularly when you remember that Quinnipiac’s national polling consistently has terrible numbers for Trump. But it’s not out-of-left-field crazy. Other polls taken this year have showed Trump’s job approval in Texas surprisingly tepid, and Scott Lincicome notes that Texans may have special reason to view Trump’s lurch towards protectionism dimly. Meanwhile, Cruz’s job approval isn’t so hot either at 47/45. A Texas Republican having to defend his seat during a midterm when the sitting Republican president is unusually unpopular is dodgy territory for Cruz. If Trump were popular, Cruz would win easily regardless of his own numbers. If Cruz were popular, he would win easily regardless of Trump’s. But when the electorate is down on the president and not real thrilled with the guy on the ballot, that seems like a recipe for unpredictability. In fact, note the independent numbers on this question:

Indies want to send Trump a message by sinking Cruz. Imagine if, after all the primary drama in 2016, after Cruz’s famous “vote your conscience” play at the convention followed by him crawling back to Trump that fall, he lost because he was too chummy with the president for voters’ tastes — in Texas.

But like I say, I think gravity will reassert itself. Quinnipiac’s sample seems questionable too: They have a mix of 36I/31R/24D, an unusually large number of independents for Texas. In 2016, the Texas exit poll was 38R/33I/29D. Two years earlier, in the red-wave midterm of 2014, it was 39R/34I/29D. Neither of those elections is a great comparison for this fall since 2016 was a presidential contest and 2014 saw a Democrat in the White House. Even so, Quinnipiac sees a *lot* of indies at the polls this fall. Have that many Texans switched from Republican to independent in the past two years? Cruz had better hope not.