Poll Shows Ted Cruz in Dead Heat With Texas Dem

(CN) – A new Emerson College poll found Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz now holds just a single-point lead over Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke in a Senate race considered to be one of the hottest midterm contests in the nation.

While polls in the Texas U.S. Senate race have consistently pointed to a Cruz victory, the Emerson poll released Monday shows Cruz’s lead shrinking, 38-37 percent among the 550 registered voters surveyed. Twenty-one percent were still undecided and 4 percent said they are voting for someone else.

Texas Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke, second from right, poses for a photo following a town hall meeting at a restaurant in Falfurrias, Texas on Jan. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Aiding O’Rourke is Cruz’s unfavorability ratings, especially among Independent voters, where the three-term congressman from El Paso leads Cruz by 20 points. The poll also suggests a generational gap between the two, with O’Rourke scoring 19 points higher than Cruz among 18-34 year-olds, 47-28 percent.

Cruz, 47, comes out ahead with voters 55 and over.

With just 71 days to go before the midterm elections, Cruz has the power of incumbency and national name recognition sharpened after just one term in the Senate. He came in second in the 2016 Republican primary race for president after a bruising battle against Donald Trump.

O’Rourke, 45, has emerged as something of a savior in the making for Texas Democrats desperate to end a dry spell of constant electoral losses eclipsing a generation. Fueled by impressive fundraising cycles in which he has outraised Cruz, O’Rourke boasts about visiting all 254 counties in Texas and has TV spots airing in the state’s major media markets, a feat previously unheard of this early for a Democrat running statewide.

In the Emerson poll, Cruz’s numbers also trail those of Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who has a nine-point favorability lead over the senator. According to the poll, voters showed more support for Abbott and his re-election bid against former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

Abbott leads Valdez 48-28 percent in the gubernatorial race, the poll shows.

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