By Kathryn Lundstrom
U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, leads Republican incumbent Ted Cruz by 2 percentage points among likely voters, according to an Ipsos online poll released Wednesday, Sept. 19 in conjunction with Reuters and the University of Virginia. O’Rourke has been closing the gap over the last several months, but this is the first poll that puts him ahead of Cruz.
Forty-seven percent of likely voters told Reuters they would vote for O’Rourke, while 45 percent said they would cast their ballot for Cruz. Three percent said they would vote for “Other,” and 5 percent said “None.” The margin of error on that portion of the poll was 3.5 percentage points.
A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday put Cruz 9 percentage points ahead of O’Rourke among likely voters. That poll was based on phone interviews, while the Ipsos poll used an online survey. But it’s trying to predict who will show up on Election Day that shifts the numbers, said Ipsos Vice President Chris Jackson.
Ipsos is trying to gauge political enthusiasm on each side, said Jackson. The 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, he said, because Republicans usually have the momentum advantage in Texas.
“It demonstrates how Democrats are mobilized,” said Jackson. “This election is going to be really competitive and it’s going be very hard fought.”
Healthcare and immigration were the issues that Texas voters valued most, according to the poll, but it’s “very lopsided,” Jackson said. Republican respondents cared most about immigration and Democrats cared most about healthcare with very little overlap.
Respondents were also asked whether they perceived Cruz and O’Rourke as “traditional” politicians. Among likely voters, 76 percent saw Cruz as traditional, while only 32 percent perceived O’Rourke that way — something that may be to O’Rourke’s advantage in a political climate that leans away from establishment politics, Jackson said.
The poll also questioned voters about the Texas gubernatorial election and found that Gov. Greg Abbott leads his Democratic challenger, Lupe Valdez, by 9 percentage points among likely voters.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2018/09/19/beto-orourke-leads-cruz-new-poll-texas-senate-race/.