The final polls in the 2018 Texas Senate race show a tightening contest and a hint that Donald Trump’s presence may have actually hurt Republican Ted Cruz.
After a 2016 presidential run that came closer than anyone else of knocking off Donald Trump, Ted Cruz entered his Senate re-election race as a far-and-away favorite over Congressman Beto O’Rourke. Cruz had become one of the nation’s best-known Republicans and developed a robust fundraising arm, while O’Rourke had little name recognition outside of his congressional district. But after months of tireless campaigning across the state, final polls suggest that O’Rourke is within striking distance and that Ted Cruz’s former Republican opponent might still be hurting him.
As the Texas Tribune reported, a poll from the University of Texas at Tyler showed that Cruz had a slim 3-point lead over O’Rourke among likely voters. While this was the first from the pollster this cycle, it fit with a larger trend showing that Cruz’s once double-digit lead had shrunk to a statistical tie with O’Rourke.
“The poll follows a slate of polls that show Cruz’s lead over O’Rourke narrowing. A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday [October 29] said Cruz was up by 5 percentage points, and a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Friday showed Cruz up by 6,” the report noted.
As MSNBC political analyst Rick Tyler noted, Cruz’s dwindling lead came after Donald Trump made a very high-profile entry into the race, stumping for Cruz despite the bitter history between the two Republicans. Though Trump remains more popular in deep-red Texas than he is nationally, his presence in the race may have hurt Cruz, Tyler noted.
Though the final Texas Senate polls show strong movement toward Beto O’Rourke, Ted Cruz has still maintained a slim lead in nearly every poll and polling aggregators still expect him to win by mid-single digits. The polling analysis site FiveThirtyEight has listed the race as “likely Republican” and calculates that Cruz has a 77.1 percent chance of defeating Beto O’Rourke.
But the site also noted that there is a possibility of a systematic polling error across all races that underestimates Democratic support and the likely voter model to improperly skew away from Democrats. Though this is uncommon, if it happened this year it could mean that the final Texas Senate polls are accurate in predicting a deadlock and there is an equal possibility of either Ted Cruz or Beto O’Rourke winning the state’s Senate race, depending on which side can better turn out their voters.