A new Quinnipiac University poll (PDF) shows U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) with an 11-point lead over U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) by 19 over Lupe Valdez (D).

Cruz leads O’Rourke, 50%-39%, among “Texas voters.” Cruz leads among men, 57%-35%, and among women, 44%-42%, which is statistically tied. Cruz leads among Anglos (62%-28%) and Hispanics/Latinos (46%-44%, a statistical tie). O’Rourke leads among African-Americans (70%-15%) and voters under 35 (46%-41%).

Cruz’s lead jumped eight points from the university’s April poll (PDF). At the time, we said, “the closeness of the horse race is highly questionable, [but] the poll does highlight three of O’Rourke’s significant weaknesses.” Those weaknesses remain, and at least one is worse:

  • Low name identification: Half of poll respondents “haven’t heard enough” about O’Rourke to form an opinion of him, a slight improvement from April. His favorability rating among those with an opinion is 30/19, roughly the same as his 30/16 in April.
  • Relatively low performance among Hispanic/Latino voters: O’Rourke is statistically tied with Cruz among Hispanic/Latino voters. In April, O’Rourke led Cruz, 51%-33%, among Hispanic/Latino voters; and
  • One of his strongest constituencies casts ballots at a relatively low rate: O’Rourke leads Cruz, 46%-41%, among voters under 35, who have historically voted far less often than voters over 65, which favor Cruz, 57%-35%.

Cruz’s net favorability overall is 49/38, which is an improvement from the 46/44 rating he received in the April poll. His net favorability rating among Hispanic/Latino voters is 45/35, and they approve of his job performance 51/37, which is roughly the same as his job performance rating (52/39) among all respondents.

Importantly, Cruz has improved among “independent” voters, which now prefer O’Rourke by just two points (43%-41%). In April, independents broke for O’Rourke, 51%-35%.

The poll suggests Valdez has an even bigger name identification problem: 60% of respondents “haven’t heard enough” to form an opinion about her, which significantly opens the door for the Abbott campaign to define her. Valdez has a net favorability rating of 25/19, well short of Abbott’s 53/27. Hispanic/Latino voters view Abbott’s job performance favorably, 49/31.

Valdez leads Abbott by just 4 points among Hispanics/Latinos (43%-39%) and trails by double digits among each age group in the sample. She also trails among “independent” voters, 45%-38%.

Respondents are evenly split, 47/47, when it comes to President Trump’s job performance. Self-identified Republicans strongly approve, 88/7, while Democrats are strongly disapproving, 3/92. Trump’s job performance rating improves as the age of voters increases. Voters under 35 disapprove of Trump’s job performance, 35/59, while voters 65 and over view it more favorably, 55/41. In the April poll, Trump’s job performance rating was 43/52. It is likely that the improving view of his job performance helped boost the Republican candidates from the previous poll.

This Quinnipiac poll puts Cruz and Abbott’s leads significantly higher than a recent poll from JMC Analytics and Polling. In that poll, Cruz led O’Rourke, 47%-40%, and Abbott led Valdez, 48%-36%.

Looking ahead to 2020, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s (R) job performance is viewed favorably by 40% of respondents and unfavorably by 30% of respondents. Among Republicans, Cornyn’s net job performance rating is 56/14, which suggests any prospective primary challengers faces a decidedly uphill climb.

The poll of 961 “Texas voters” was conducted with live interviewers via mobile and landline phones. It was in the field May 23-29. The stated margin of error is ±3.8%.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC