Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) leads his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas), by 5 percentage points, 41 percent to 36 percent, with 17 percent expressing no opinion, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Cruz was leading O'Rourke by 3 points in an April Quinnipiac University poll, though that same poll had Cruz up by 11 points in May.
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) June 25, 2018
Cruz is more unpopular than O'Rourke, who represents the West Texas district centered in El Paso, but he also has better name recognition — 41 percent of voters have a favorable view of Cruz and 42 percent view him unfavorably, while 37 percent view O'Rourke favorably and 24 percent have an unfavorable view. This poll "is an early look at the 2018 general election, a survey of registered voters — not of the 'likely voters' whose intentions will become clearer in the weeks immediately preceding the election," The Texas Tribune notes. "If recent history is the guide, most registered voters won't vote in November."
"The numbers also reflect, perhaps, the faint rumble of excitement from Democrats and wariness from Republicans who together are wondering what kind of midterm election President Donald Trump might inspire," the Tribune says. And Trump is only moderately popular in deep-red Texas — 47 percent approve of his job performance while 44 percent disapprove in the new poll. Democrats have never liked Trump, said UT government professor Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll. "And he would have been in a disaster area, except Republicans really ran to him. They like the way that he deals with the Democrats." The UT/TT poll was conducted online among 1,200 registered voters June 8-17, and it has an overall margin of error of ±2.83 percentage points. Peter Weber