The 2018 Texas Senate race continues to tighten, with one pollster noting what it called a “notable shift” toward Beto O’Rourke in the final days as he has brought the race to a tie.
O’Rourke was once considered a long-shot to beat the well-established Ted Cruz, but the Democratic candidate has built a grassroots coalition and spent months criss-crossing the state to build support. As the polling firm Change Research noted on Twitter, it appears to have paid off as Beto O’Rourke is coming on strong in the final days before the election.
The pollster noted that the two are now dead-even in polling, with both at 49 percent while Libertarian candidate Neil Dikerman is at 1 percent. O’Rourke has surged into a tie by shoring up traditionally Democratic voters — the firm noted that in the past two weeks, he went from having 95 percent of those who voted for Hillary Clinton to 99 percent of them.
“Cruz is doing quite well among pure Republicans, leading 95-4 among 2016 Trump voters,” the pollster noted. “But Beto has consolidated support among everyone else: over 99% of Clinton 2016 voters, over 90% among Jill Stein voters, and double digit leads with 2016 non-voters and Gary Johnson voters.”
The pollster added that the Texas Senate race will be very close if Beto O’Rourke can match these numbers when voters head to the polls, especially in a year with such a high turnout.
While Change Research may see a tight race, the other final Texas Senate polls before election day show that Ted Cruz is still holding an advantage. The poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight shows that Cruz is still averaging a nearly five-point lead in polls, giving the Republican a roughly 78 percent chance of being re-elected to his Senate seat. The site also noted that when adjusted for the method of polling — Change Research polls online, which tends to favor younger and more progressive voters — the results of the latest poll still show Cruz with a slight lead.
Beto O’Rourke will likely hope to gain an advantage from voters who may not be well reflected in the final Texas Senate polls. He has made significant efforts to reach Latino and younger voters, two groups that have been underrepresented in polls and likely voter models. As Change Research and other pollsters predicted, it will likely come down to turnout on election day and whether O’Rourke can capitalize on the enthusiasm his campaign has generated among groups that have not been as reliable voting in midterm elections.