The first debate between U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) was a high-energy, sharp affair that crackled with each candidate’s dislike of the other.
Poised and prepared, they argued their cases to their own bases in performances that confirmed everything their supporters and detractors believed about them. Moderators Julie Fine and Gromer Jeffers Jr. Topics asked pointed questions about immigration, police brutality and anthem protests, gun control, the Brett Kavanaugh nomination and the President’s job performance, among other domestic policy issues.
O’Rourke, who has heretofore kept his campaign positive and upbeat, was combative and tense during the hourlong event at Southern Methodist Univ. in Dallas.
Libertarian nominee Neal Dikeman was not included in the debate. In a series of tweets, he provided a list of reasons why the candidates were “glad I wasn’t on the debate stage,” which included “Ted wouldn’t have been able to pretend he’s a Libertarian.”
Cruz and O’Rourke will debate in Houston on September 30 and in San Antonio on October 16.
The debate followed national pundit Charlie Cook moving the race to “toss up” from “lean Republican,” making him the first of the major prognosticators to do so. Most of the national pundits have the race rated as “lean Republican,” as do we. Cook noted that “Cruz isn’t terribly popular” while O’Rourke has “generated a great deal of enthusiasm among Democrats and independents.” Because O’Rourke has campaigned against PAC money, Cook reasoned that outside groups such as Club for Growth “swoop[ing] in with millions in television advertising might well be counterproductive.”
The debate also followed the release of two polls showing the race remains tight.
Public Policy Polling released a second poll is as many days (PDF) showing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) with a three-point lead over U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso). The Democrat-leaning firm conducted the poll for End Citizens United, which has endorsed O’Rourke. Yesterday, we discussed a PPP poll conducted for Protect Our Care, a group fighting efforts to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act.
The ECU poll shows Cruz leading O’Rourke, 49%-46%. The SOC poll had the race at 48%-45%. Cruz is viewed more favorably by the ECU sample (49/45) than the SOC sample (43/48). Both samples were evenly split when it comes to O’Rourke’s favorability, 43/42 and 39/40.
The poll of 603 “Texas voters” was in the field September 19-20. The stated margin of error is ±4%. Crosstabs were not provided.
Meanwhile, a Reform Austin poll shows Cruz leading O’Rourke, 49%-45%, including “leaners.” Cruz leads among men, 58%-37%. It appears that O’Rourke leads among women, 50%-44%, although the “crosstabs” have these numbers reversed. Cruz leads among “independents,” 49%-44%.
Cruz leads among Anglos, 59%-36%, while O’Rourke leads among Hispanic/Latino voters, 66%-27%. This is a higher figure than we’ve seen in other recent polls. For example, a recent Quinnipiac Univ. poll showed O’Rourke with a 54%-45% lead among Hispanic/Latino voters.
Voters under 35 prefer O’Rourke, 63%-38%. Voters aged 65 and older prefer Cruz, 54%-39%.
The poll of 1,161 “likely Texas voters” was in the field September 11-12. It has a stated margin of error of ±3%.
Recent polls and our reports about them:
- Reform Austin (Sept.): Cruz 49-45 (“Cruz, O’Rourke Debate as New Polls Indicate Race Remains Tight“)
- Public Policy Polling (Sept.): Cruz 49-46 (“Cruz, O’Rourke Debate as New Polls Indicate Race Remains Tight“)
- Public Policy Polling (Sept.): Cruz 48-45 (“Another Day, Another Single-digit Cruz Lead“)
- Ipsos/Reuters* (Sept.): O’Rourke 47-45, Abbott 50-41 (“O’Rourke Ahead in Online-only Poll“)
- Quinnipiac Univ. (Sept.): Cruz 54-45, Abbott 58-39 (“Quinnipiac Poll: Cruz by 9, Abbott by 19“)
- CBS-11/Dixie Strategies (Sept.): Cruz 46-42, Abbott 53-34 (“Another Poll Shows Slender Cruz Lead“)
- Crosswind Texas Pulse (Sept.): Cruz 47-44, Abbott 52-39 (“Another Poll Shows Slender Cruz Lead“)
- Emerson Coll.* (August): Cruz 38-37, Abbott 48-28 (“One Debate On, Another Off and Other News for August 27“)
- NBC/Marist Coll. (August): Cruz 49-45, Abbott 56-37 (“Poll: Cruz Up 4, Abbott Up 19“)
- Public Policy Polling (August): Cruz 46-42 (“Texas Drops to 30th and Other Election News for August 7“)
- Quinnipiac Univ. (July): Cruz 49-43, Abbott 51-38 (“Pair of Statewide Polls Show Double-digit Leads for Abbott“)
- Texas Lyceum (July): Cruz 41-39, Abbott 47-31 (“Pair of Statewide Polls Show Double-digit Leads for Abbott“)
- Gravis (July): Cruz 51-42, Abbott 51-41 (“4 Democratic Challengers Top $1M and Other News for July 9“)
- UT/Texas Tribune (June): Cruz 41-36, Abbott 44-32 (“8 File for SD19 and Other Election News for June 25“)
- CBS/YouGov (June): Cruz 50-40 (“Gloves Off in SD19, New SEN Poll and More News for June 24“)
- End Citizens United (June): Cruz 49-43 (“Two Democrats Release Favorable Internal Polls“)
- Public Policy Polling (May): Cruz 48-42 (“Another SEN Poll and Other News for June 6“)
- Baselice (May): Cruz 48-36 (“New Baselice Survey and Election News for July 5“)
- Quinnipiac Univ. (May): Cruz 50-39, Abbott 53-34 (“Poll: Double-digit Leads for Cruz, Abbott“)
- JMC Analytics (May): Cruz 47-40, Abbott 48-36 or 50-39 (“New Poll Suggests Strong Name ID for Independent Candidate“)
- Quinnipiac Univ. (April): Cruz 47-44, Abbott 49-40 or 48-41 (“Quinnipiac: Cruz, Abbott Lead by Single Digits“)
We will repost this list with additional polls as we get closer to Election Day.
* We have serious reservations about the Ipsos and Emerson polls and included them in our reports, and on this list, solely because they received national news attention.
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