The Texas U.S. Senate race between U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke is too close to call, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday.
Forty-seven percent of registered voters in Texas support Cruz, the Republican incumbent, while 44 percent support his Democratic challenger O’Rourke, D-El Paso, the poll found. The three percent difference falls within the poll’s 3.6 percent margin of error.
“Democrats have had a target on Sen. Ted Cruz’s back, and they may be hitting the mark,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the poll, in a press release.
While the results drew excitement from the O’Rourke camp, it is still too early to tell what will transpire at the polls, said Joshua Blank, manager of polling and research at the UT-Austin Texas Politics Project.
“Polling done this early – especially in an election cycle – tends to show Democrats doing far better than they usually end up performing on Election Day,” Blank said. “The reality is polls this far out generally tend to show a very close race either way because most people aren’t very familiar with the candidates.”
The poll found 47 percent of Texas voters “like Ted Cruz as a person,” while 38 percent do not. Forty percent of voters “like Beto O’Rourke as a person,” while 13 percent do not. Forty-seven percent of voters were undecided.
Jim Henson, director of the UT-Austin Texas Politics Project, said the poll is more reflective of overall Democratic enthusiasm in Texas than it is a reliable indicator of what will happen on Election Day.
“One one hand, O’Rourke is showing more signs of running a successful campaign than we’ve seen at the top of the Democratic ticket in recent cycles,” Henson said. “On the other hand, the poll also shows that 53 percent of voters don’t know enough about him to form an opinion of him.”
Blank said nothing coming out in the poll should be a major surprise to either candidate.
“I think the both campaigns would agree this poll is not terribly meaningful and it’s not going to change their strategy or trajectory for the next three months,” Blank said. “I would say the biggest effect this poll had is it led both campaigns to release a fundraising email within a few hours of its release.”