NBC News: Cruz 49, O’Rourke 45

It’s been three weeks since our last poll result.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

In a head-to-head match up, Cruz held a 4-point lead over O’Rourke. Forty-nine percent of respondents backed Cruz, compared to 45 percent who supported O’Rourke. Six percent of respondents remain undecided. The poll has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

Cruz has maintained a fairly strong favorability rating, with 49 percent of those surveyed viewing him favorably and 41 percent viewing him unfavorably. O’Rourke is far more unknown. Forty-one percent of respondents viewed him favorably while 23 percent of those surveyed had an unfavorable view. Thirty-six percent were either unsure of their opinion of O’Rourke or hadn’t heard of him.


The poll also showed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott with a daunting 19-point lead over former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, similar to other public polling of the race.

Additionally, President Donald Trump is just above water in the state: 47 percent of registered voters approve of his job performance, against a 45 percent disapproval rating.

You can see more details here. There are two things I want to note about this poll, which brings our 12-poll average to 46.9 for Cruz and 40.75 for O’Rourke. One is that O’Rourke’s 45% is the highest level he’s reached in any poll so far (he’s gotten a 44 from Quinnipiac and a couple of 43s before now; Bill White reached 44 once and 43 once in 2010) and the second highest of any Democrat in any poll since I’ve been tracking them, trailing the 46 Hillary Clinton got in two different weird WaPo/Survey Monkey polls in 2016. I had just been saying that I’d like to see some results with Beto above 43%, and lo and behold we have one. Now let me say that I’d like to see more of this, and we’ll see if my wish gets granted again.

The other point has to do with the difference in the Senate race and in the Governor’s race. Not all of the polls we have seen so far have included results for the Governor’s race, but some have. Here’s how they compare:

NBC News, Aug 21

Cruz 49, O’Rourke 45
Abbott 56, Valdez 37
Cruz -7, O’Rourke +8

Quinnipiac, Aug 2

Cruz 49, O’Rourke 43
Abbott 51, Valdez 38
Cruz -2, O’Rourke +5

Lyceum, Aug 1

Cruz 41, O’Rourke 39
Abbott 47, Valdez 31
Cruz -6, O’Rourke +8

Gravis, July 10

Cruz 51, O’Rourke 42
Abbott 51, Valdez 41
Cruz 0, O’Rourke +1

UT/Trib, June 25

Cruz 41, O’Rourke 36
Abbott 44, Valdez 32
Cruz -3, O’Rourke +4

Quinnipiac, May 30

Cruz 50, O’Rourke 39
Abbott 53, Valdez 34
Cruz -3, O’Rourke +5

Quinnipiac, April 18

Cruz 47, O’Rourke 44
Avvott 49, Valdez 40
Cruz -2, O’Rourke +4

Average differences: Cruz -3.3, O’Rourke +5
Average differences minus NBC and Lyceum: Cruz -2, O’Rourke +3.8

I think we all agree that Beto O’Rourke will do better than other Democratic candidates in November. If he does, there are two possible reasons for it. One is that some number of people will vote for him and then not vote in other races, and the other is that some number of people who otherwise vote Republican will cross over to vote for him. I don’t think we’ll really know how this shakes out until we see results, but I would guess that at this time, the poll results mostly reflect the higher profile of the Senate race, and to a lesser extent the potential for crossovers. Hillary Clinton got 300K to 400K more votes than most of the other downballot Dems in 2016, which translated to her doing four to seven points better than they did, while Bill White got about 400K more votes than his downballot colleagues in 2010. That translated to a 14 or 15 point improvement for him, as that was a much lower turnout election.

The distance between Beto O’Rourke and Lupe Valdez is similar to the distance between Hillary Clinton and other Dems in 2016, though as you can see there are two polls including this one that show a wide gap while the other five show much narrower differences. In a non-Presidential election like this, we could be talking a net 300K or so swing towards Beto if the polls are accurate. As we’ve seen too many times before, that’s only a big deal if the base Democratic vote is enough to put him close to the base Republican vote. The fundamentals have always been the same, we just have more data now. I for one would hesitate to make any projections or draw any conclusions beyond the basic observation that O’Rourke is polling better than Lupe Valdez, and will almost surely outperform her. We don’t know enough to say more, and if you’re inclined to take this one data point as destiny, you’re doing it wrong.

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10 Responses to NBC News: Cruz 49, O’Rourke 45

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    U.S. Senate is first on the ballot so very possible that Beto could win and other state wide candidates don’t do well.

    Lately have been going to Democratic events and it seems that the majority of the candidates are not doing much to help themselves, except going to events where all the same political people see each other.

    Disappointed of candidates like Lina Hidalgo had no yard signs and I inquired by email and they even failed to respond to my email. When I saw them again I asked if they had received my email, they said yes but did agree that they did not respond to my email. I even offered to pay for the yard sign. Yard signs are the cheapest advertisement.

    Lupe Valdez has women that are helping her so I expect that she will do better than what the polls suggest.

    Don’t know who is running against Culbertson, not my district, but while going through Meyerland saw his signs but none for his opponent.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Any ‘Republican’ that crosses over to vote for Beto would have to be a zealous never Trumper willing to shoot themselves in the foot out of hate. Beto will probably get a few of those, and probably some country club Pubs that are closet Dems, but I don’t think that will be a large number.

    This year, the congressional races are about one thing only……Trump. Of course Dems want to win to neuter him, just like the Pubs did with Obama. The key to this race is going to be turnout.

    Pubs who may find Cruz abrasive and unlikable are going to face gut check time. Do they like the policies the President is implementing and promulgating? Yes? Then suck it up and vote Cruz. Are they willing to halt the progress they have gotten because Cruz and/or Trump is a loudmouth and overall big meanie? Hey, Beto is your man.

    Personally, I like Cruz based on policy, and did vote for him, even though I usually vote Libertarian in congressional races. This is not the year for protest votes, though.

  3. asmith says:

    If the crosstabs are accurate, I don’t think a democratic candidate has been tied or close in the DFW media market since Ann Richards in 1990 or Lloyd Bentsen in 1988. The firewall between urban/first ring suburb and suburban counties is breaking up at least this election cycle. Go to areas like north Plano and the old telecom corridor around Richardson and you’ll see this. This is why TX32 is a tossup. This is happening in Harris and Fort Bend as well.

    I wish Nelson and Collier would campaign the same way Beto and Ag commish candidate Kim Olson do, speaking with all voters not just Ds. If the Ds could get enough turnout downballot, Collier, Nelson, and Suazo have a shot forming a new LRB which would make the gop come to negotiating table on redistricting in 2021.

  4. asmith says:

    The key for Beto is to not get blown out in the smaller metros like Waco, Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Temple, Bryan-CS, Tyler-Longview. He’s going to these areas to narrow the margins. Can’t lose a county like Van Zandt 88-12 like HRC did. Can’t come close to being a Senator from TX if you’re losing Brownwood 80-20.

  5. Carmen Saenz says:

    Beto seems to be doing a great job in the smaller venues like Waco and Temple. I have lived in McLennan County since 2002 and have not seen this much enthusiasm for any candidate, especially a Democrat in all of the years I have been here.

    There are Beto signs all over Waco and Temple and his town halls have been standing room only. The last event he did in Waco (I believe this was his 5th appearance) drew about 850 people, which is HUGE for Waco.

  6. Manny Barrera says:

    I think the dam may have broken and it will sweep a lot of Republicans away. Trump promised to clean the swamp, but not the way it is happening. Beto saw a trend and took a risk by leaving his congressional seat. He is extremely smart and a hard worker and it will probably payoff this year.

    But it will not happen without a lot of people getting out there and getting people to vote for people like Beto.

    The first candidate that I donated to was Doug Jones, he won.

    The second candidate that I donated to was Conner Lamb, he won.

    Beto O’Rourke was the third candidate, back in January of this year, I hope that my hunch is right but it will take a lot of work for people that want our country back.

  7. Ross says:

    I can’t stand Cruz, and Beto is completely wrong on guns. I’ll sit this one out.

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  10. Cameron Self says:

    For what it’s worth, while block walking and even speaking to friends, I have found Abbott-Beto voters. I don’t know how many of these people are out there. But it’s enough for me to have several friends and run into a couple households between just 3 block walks who are on team Abbott-Beto. If I ever see a yard with both Abbott and Beto signs, I will surely take a picture haha

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