A new poll of the U.S. Senate race in Texas shows Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke holding a two-point lead over incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz. The polls results are a shocker in a deep-red state with just 48 days to go until the midterm elections.
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) September 19, 2018
The Reuters/Ipsos/UVA Center for Politics Poll released this morning found that 47 percent of voters said they favored O’Rourke, while 45 percent said they favored Cruz. It surveyed a population of 992 adults between September 6 and September 14th.
The high-profile race has drawn a large amount of national attention because it is so close, and because Texas has not elected a Democrat to the Senate in three decades. If Texas becomes a purple or blue state instead of a red state it will have profound implications for national elections.
Larry Sabato, director of the UVA Center for Politics, said he thinks the poll shows that O’Rourke is close enough to have a chance to win. “There’s a possibility it could happen. I’m not saying probable. But it’s possible,” Sabato said.
A separate Quinnipiac poll released a day earlier found Cruz with a nine-point lead, which is an indication that polls are very imperfect and don’t capture the whole situation in any given political contest. The poll results also depend on who is asked the survey questions.
The Quinnipiac poll was based on phone interviews, while the Ipsos poll used an online survey. These two different approaches may reach two entirely different groups of voters. Younger people don’t have landlines, and working people generally don’t answer their phones. This may mean that the Quinnipiac poll is biased toward older GOP voters who have land lines and actually answer their telephones.
Ipsos Vice President Chris Jackson said that his group is trying to gauge political enthusiasm on each side as well as candidate preferences.
The Ipsos Poll asked respondents to estimate the likelihood that they’d vote in the midterm elections on a scale from one to 10.
“More Democrats are registering at the highest part of the scale, at the 10, than the Republicans,” Jackson said. “And that’s what’s interesting because Republicans usually have the momentum advantage in Texas.”
Polls usually don’t measure voter enthusiasm, and they also don’t measure which voter will actually turn out and vote in any given election. Nothing is guaranteed for the underdog, Beto O’Rourke, but there is no question that this latest poll is good news for him and his supporters, and will give them hope and optimism as they head into the home stretch of a very tough race.