In a poll released Wednesday by the Texas Lyceum Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is losing to potential challenger Congressman Jaoquin Castro (D-Tex) 35%-31%. The same poll has Cruz tied with another challenger, Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D-Tex.).
While Castro has yet to formally declare for the race, early numbers suggest he is the best chance for Democrats to defeat Cruz in the traditionally red state of Texas. As for O'Rourke, he too has strong numbers against Cruz with each predicted to take 30% of the vote in a head-to-head-to-head challenge. O'Rourke officially entered the race in late March.
Another interesting piece of information from the Texas poll is that it appears many respondents have yet to make up their mind on a candidate. When asked to chose between Cruz and Castro, 31% said they “haven't thought enough about it.” In a contest between Cruz and O'Rourke, that number jumps to 37%.
The fact that Texas can even be considered competitive for Democrats is good news for progressives. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976, and the last Democratic to represent the state in the U.S. Senate was Robert Krueger, who was appointed by Democratic Governor Ann Richards in early 1990s.
One of the most recent attempts Democrats made for statewide office in Texas came when State Senator Wendy Davis ran for governor in 2014. That race posed the question on if Democrats could turn the state blue; however, Davis went on to lose to Republican Greg Abbott by 20 points.
One possibility for the high Democratic numbers could be due to President Donald Trump. When asked by pollsters on how the president was handling his job, 54% of respondents answered either “very poor” or “somewhat poor” while only 43% answered “very good” or “somewhat good.”
In a statement released with the new polling numbers, the Texas pollsters said,
“...The substantial percentage of undecided respondents– coupled with the conservative, pro-Republican proclivities of the Texas electorate in recent years– suggest a cautious interpretation.”
All the same, the new polling numbers may help to spark energy and draw attention to the race. Voters should watch for statements coming from the Cruz and O'Rourke campaigns — as well as any statewide actions coming from Castro — to see if the new numbers help to pull him into the contest.