An NBC News/Marist Univ. poll (PDF) shows U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) leading U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso), 49%-45%, among “registered voters” with just 6% undecided. The same poll shows Gov. Greg Abbott (R) with a 56%-37% lead over former Dallas Co. Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D).

The poll indicates a greater split among Republican candidates at the top of the ballot than what occurred in recent election cycles, but it probably less a function of conscious ticket-splitting and more a function of the candidates’ relative favorability.

Cruz had a 49/41 favorability rating among registered voters, nearly 10 points behind Abbott’s 58/31 rating. One out of 10 self-identified Republicans has an unfavorable view of Cruz compared to just 4% for Abbott. Self-identified “moderates” gave Abbott a 51/38 rating, while Cruz is upside down among that group (30/57).

Just over a third of registered voters have not heard of O’Rourke or are unsure of their impression of him. His favorability rating overall is 41/23 among registered voters. Valdez’s favorability rating is 31/26, and 43% of registered voters have not heard of her or have no opinion of her. Interestingly, 46% of self-identified Republicans have no opinion of Valdez, which we expect will change as Abbott’s campaign hits the airwaves in earnest.

President Trump’s favorability rating is 42/50 among registered voters. Trump is relatively popular in East Texas (62/32) and West Texas (49/39) but is underwater in the D/FW area (34/60), Houston area (32/58), South Central Texas (42/54) and the “Latino Southwest” (31/54). Men (48/43) are considerably more favorable to Trump than women (31/61). Unsurprisingly, “Trump supporters” favor Cruz, 89%-7%, and Abbott, 93%-4%.

Registered voters would prefer a Republican-led Congress by a 47%-40% margin but the generic ballot test favors Republicans by just a 46%-43% margin, which is within the ±3.8% margin of error.

O’Rourke leads Cruz among Hispanics/Latinos by 11 points (53%-42%) and among women by 10 points (51%-41%). Valdez leads Abbott among Hispanics/Latinos by just 5 points (48%-43%), and she is 10 points down among women (41%-51%).

The poll of 970 adults as in the field August 12-16. They were contacted on landline and mobile phones by live interviewers using English or Spanish. Of those, 759 were registered voters. Thus, the poll does not sample “likely voters” by any definition and therefore likely is skewed by a couple of points toward Democrats. Of the sample of registered voters, 33% identified as Republicans, 31% as Democrats and 35% as independents, an unlikely mix for the likely electorate.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC