That doesn’t mean Cruz is likely to lose, but if there’s a political wave, he’s got a lot more to worry about than advertised. Texas is a more plausible Senate sleeper in this analyst’s estimation than Tennessee.
There’s plenty of evidence suggesting that Cruz will be facing a serious challenge running for a second term. His Democratic opponent, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, outraised him in the just-completed fundraising quarter by a significant margin. The congressman raised $2.4 million compared to Cruz’s $1.9 million in the last three months of last year—after nearly outraising him in the previous fundraising period. All told, O’Rourke has cut Cruz’s cash-on-hand advantage to $2.7 million—a much-less imposing advantage than anyone expected. The notion that O’Rourke won’t have enough money to compete is now outdated, and his fundraising would accelerate if Cruz suddenly looked vulnerable.
The limited polling from Texas shows the possibility of a competitive race. A recently released partisan poll commissioned by a group supporting O’Rourke found the congressman trailing Cruz by only 8 points (45 to 37 percent). Cruz’s campaign released its own poll giving the incumbent an 18-point lead (52-34 percent). Either way, horse-race polling isn’t all that predictive this far out before an election.