The big blue wave may have already crested, according to numbers coming out of Texas today in a US Senate race that has attracted a lot of media attention. Democrat Beto O’Rourke has been boosted as the kind of Democrat who can compete in deep-red states like Texas in his challenge to incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. And for a while, that looked like it might be true; an early April poll from Quinnipiac had the race within the margin of error.
Five weeks later, the blue wave has receded dramatically:
With a big boost from men, Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz leads U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, his Democratic challenger, 50 – 39 percent in the Texas Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today.
This compares to the results of an April 18 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University, showing the race too close to call with Sen. Cruz at 47 percent and O’Rourke at 44 percent.
So what happened? Quinnipiac cites a “nationwide Republican mini-move” over the last few weeks, thanks in part to an improvement in Donald Trump’s performance rating. He went from 43/52 in April to 47/47 now, which certainly looks as if it has lifted all boats in Texas. Cruz has also improved his job approval rating, which stands at 52/39 after an eyebrow-raising 47/45 in April. That improved standing has perhaps shown up mostly among independent voters. In early April, he trailed 37/51, but today the split among indies as 41/43, a virtual tie.
Incumbents usually need to get to 50% to feel secure in their re-election bids. The fact that it’s still an issue for Cruz in deep-red Texas suggests that more work needs to be done, but Republicans appear to be gaining momentum across the board. Greg Abbott is running for re-election as governor, and his lead over Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez went from 49/40 in April to 53/34. Abbott is now leading in most demos, including among women (48/40) against a female candidate.
It’s still early, and a lot can happen between now and November. Whatever the Democrats are doing, however, appears to be backfiring spectacularly in a cycle they really should win, at least in the House.