Texas Senate poll: Ted Cruz 41, Beto O'Rourke 39?

I’m posting this Texas Lyceum link mainly as a PSA, as I got suckered by the topline number this morning and want to warn others against it. A two-point lead for a Republican incumbent in Texas is shocking stuff, one of the most ominous signs yet of a blue wave on the way this fall. It’s also easily the worst head-to-head number Cruz has seen thus far against Beto O’Rourke.

And worse than the margin is his own paltry share of likely voters. A 51/49 lead would be white-knuckle numbers but at least Cruz would have a majority in his corner, if only temporarily. If he’s sitting at 41 percent, though, that suggests there are a *lot* of Texans who are undecided right now because they’re taking a look at O’Rourke. Hopefully the five upcoming debates between him and Cruz will convince swing voters that he’s little more than a pinko in a cowboy hat. If he makes a good impression, though, then Cruz is in big trouble.

But wait a sec. What’s the sample on this poll again? Good lord:

Equal turnout between the parties in … Texas? C’mon, there’s no way. In 2014, the year of a red wave, turnout in Texas for the gubernatorial race tilted towards Republicans by 11 points. Two years ago, for the presidential election, it was Republicans by nine. You’d need a blue tsunami, not a blue wave, to get the state anywhere near parity between Republicans and Democrats. Which means, in reality, Cruz’s lead is surely greater than two points.

But how much greater? There’s another poll of the race out today, this time from Quinnipiac:

Quinnipiac’s sample has Republicans ahead by a modest five points, which seems plausible for a midterm environment that favors Democrats. The good news for Cruz, then, is that — for the moment — as long as more Rs turn out than Ds he should be safe on Election Day. The bad news for Cruz is that the last time Quinnipiac polled this race, at the end of May, he led by 11, 50/39. He’s lost half his lead and O’Rourke still hasn’t really been introduced to general-election voters yet. Right now the two are dead even at 46 percent among independents; if that changes in O’Rourke’s favor after the debates, suddenly this race becomes interesting. And not in a good way, particularly given the enormous haul of cash that O’Rourke is sitting on.

Imagine if Ted Cruz, the man who refused to endorse the nominee at the convention two years ago only to come crawling to him in the end, got thrown out of office — in Texas — due to a Trump-fueled national backlash. That’d be a horror-moving ending to the tea-party era.

One more poll for you, by the way, which has nothing directly to do with Texas but which political junkies on Twitter are oohing and ahhing over. This one comes from Ohio’s 12th congressional district, an area with a seven-point Republican lean and one which hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress since the early 1980s. This was John Kasich’s old district in the House; he won easily every time he ran. He was succeeded by Pat Tiberi, who also won easily virtually every time he ran. The new guy running to succeed Tiberi is state senator Troy Balderson. Last month Balderson led by 10. This month, uh…

If a Democratic wave hits hard enough to put districts like OH-12 in play, it’s going to put lots of districts in play. And if it washes over purple states, it’s at least going to dampen red ones. A six-point lead for Cruz over O’Rourke is less than you’d like in this climate. Hopefully the debates will dry Texas out.

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