Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has just a four-point lead against Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), according to a new public poll from Marist College and NBC News.
Cruz leads O’Rourke by 49 percent to 45 percent in the poll of registered voters, a warning sign for the polarizing senator as he looks to win a second term. By contrast, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has a 19-point lead in the poll.
This survey is the latest to show Cruz with a lead in the low to mid-single digits in the Republican but Democratic-trending state — the last two public polls had him up by two and six points, respectively.
Looking at the race geographically, Cruz has majority support by about a 2-1 margin in both the more rural eastern and western parts of the state. But O’Rourke is holding steady with Cruz in Dallas/Fort Worth (both at 48 percent) and besting him in Houston (51 percent to 42 percent).
Among those firmly in Cruz’s camp are conservatives (81 percent support), white evangelicals (79 percent), whites without a college degree (67 percent) and rural voters (66 percent).
O’Rourke’s strongest constituencies include liberals (84 percent support), African-Americans (82 percent), moderates (62 percent), and voters under 45 (52 percent).
Among Latinos, who make up 20 percent of the registered voters sampled in the poll, O’Rourke gets 53 percent support compared with Cruz’s 42 percent.
Both candidates share similar levels of intensity among supporters, as well. More than six-in-10 voters say they strongly support their candidate — 63 percent for O’Rourke and 65 percent for Cruz.
They also both enjoy net favorable ratings among registered voters, although O’Rourke is still unknown to about a third of them (36 percent).
Cruz’s favorability stands at 49 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable, while O’Rourke’s is 41 percent favorable and 23 percent unfavorable.
O’Rourke’s relative strength against Cruz, who is running for a second term, is in contrast to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s whopping 19 point lead over Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez.
Cruz has been running scared but according to his interview in GQ, he sounds like he’s in serious denial:
Ted Cruz is misunderstood, Ted Cruz tells me.
Out behind Mama Jack's Road House Cafe, the most prominent eatery in Kountze, Texas, the senator is hunkered down in the passenger seat of a Texas-size pickup truck, watching through Ray-Bans as his staffers re-arrange vehicles in his traveling caravan. It's the last stop on a five-day campaign tour—Cruz's tepid counterpoint to the marathon barnstorming that his Democratic opponent, Beto O'Rourke, has become famous for.
At hundreds of town halls, in the most far-flung corners of the state, the size of O'Rourke's worshipful crowds has been growing month after month. Not even well-wishers in his own party know quite what to make of it. This is, after all, Texas, a place where no Democrat has won a statewide election since 1994 and where no Democrat has won a Senate seat since 1988. The psychological impact of such a drought is difficult to overstate: For liberals in Texas, the institutional memory of their old party, or even what it feels like to win, has long ago slipped through the hourglass. And yet this has been the summer of Beto—a giddy campaign season during which descriptive clichés like “Kennedy-esque” and “punk-rock Democrat” have abounded.
O'Rourke's strengths—his charisma and optimism—are Cruz's weaknesses, and the hype that surrounds his opponent is not lost on the senator. You might think Cruz would be sweating things. But he isn't. According to him, the media has this race all wrong—just as it has long gotten him all wrong.
In Cruz's view, he's been maligned and unfairly portrayed for years as a surly right-winger. That's a press concoction, he says. “The nature of the modern media world,” he tells me in his methodical style, “is that in different periods of time, different narratives take hold. Typically those narratives are overstated or caricatures.” The storyline on Cruz, when he first came to power, was that “I was this wild-eyed bomb thrower,” he says. “That was never accurate.”
The truth, Cruz wants me to know, is that he's always been a more lighthearted fellow than he's been given credit for being. “I like to have fun. I enjoy life. I like to make jokes,” he tells me. “In 2013, during the Obamacare filibuster, I read Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor. I did a Darth Vader impression. Turned to Mike Lee and said, ‘Mike, I am your father.’ During the presidential campaign, I did Simpsons impressions and re-enacted scenes from The Princess Bride.” Politics these days has gotten so serious, he complains.
No, Ted. You suck plain and simple. Also, taking away millions of folks’ health care IS a serious matter. The truth is, Beto has been running one of the best campaigns of the year:
O’Rourke has taken to calling the coming election “the most important of our lives,” which, depending on one’s age, may or may not be an overstatement. But it’s an expression of how many people, including the 10,000-plus who’ve volunteered for his campaign, conceive of it. In supporting O’Rourke, they’re supporting a different vision of both Texas and the United States — one, as O’Rourke emphasizes, in which politicians show up to listen to all citizens, no matter their political inclination, or the size of their town, or their ability to donate to the campaign. One in which Texas — one of the most diverse states in the nation — models an empathetic, progressive way forward for a divided country.
An unofficial O’Rourke sticker, modeled on an advertisement for Texas fast-food staple Whataburger, encapsulates the qualities voters are responding to: “WANT-A-BETTER TEXAS / BETO FOR TEXAS,” it reads, followed by an ingredient list that includes integrity, grit, empathy, and punk rock, and concludes with: “All People, No PACs. Made for Those Who Love Texas.”
That more or less sums up the O’Rourke image, refined by grassroots messaging and relentless campaigning over the last 18 months. In June, he completed a tour of all 254 counties in Texas before heading right back out on the road to do it again. The campaign proudly employs no pollsters or traditional consultants; until very recently, they’ve rejected the traditional wisdom of focusing money on television advertising. They reject PAC money, even from Democratic funding sources. Instead, they lean heavily on small donations, first-time donations, and Facebook, where livestreams from the campaign trail regularly attract between 20,000 and 80,000 viewers.
This sort of campaign philosophy is appealing, but it’s also contingent on the idea that the more people who hear O’Rourke’s message — no matter how red the county, no matter how rural — the more they’ll spread it for him. Yet the campaign faces a daunting reality: To win, O’Rourke has to spread that Beto message in a way that doesn’t just energize Democrats and attract moderates, but activates millions of voters — many of them black and Latino — who, for years, haven’t felt compelled to vote in Texas, either out of apathy or a feeling of futility.
Ã¢ÂÂ Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) August 19, 2018
Beto O'Rourke embraced the Whataburger-mania surrounding his campaign and live-streamed a visit to the fast-food chain on Saturday.
Packed with his supporters who briefly chanted his name, O'Rourke entered the Whataburger and ordered up a triple meat burger.
The hefty meal is a cheeky reference to a statement made by the Ted Cruz campaign earlier this month comparing the El Paso Democrat to “a Triple Meat Whataburger liberal who is out of touch with Texas values.”
O'Rourke's campaign staffers followed suit with an identical order, with one pointing to the burger and exclaiming, “It's a Beto!”
And every time Cruz tries to attack him, it just bites Lyin’ Ted on the ass. For example, Esquire summed this up perfectly:
Ã¢ÂÂI can think of nothing more American.Ã¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ Beto O'Rourke Ã¢ÂÂ the man taking on Ted Cruz Ã¢ÂÂ brilliantly explains why NFL players kneeling during the anthem is not disrespectful pic.twitter.com/bEqOAYpxEL
Ã¢ÂÂ NowThis (@nowthisnews) August 21, 2018
There's a temptation to dismiss the opposition to NFL players' “national anthem protests” as disingenuous or worse, particularly among obviously well-informed public figures. Put simply, the players involved—whom the president has called “sons of bitches” from the rally podium—are not protesting the anthem, or the flag, or our armed forces. They have been very clear that they are protesting racial injustice in policing and the criminal justice system. The national anthem ceremony is the venue, not the subject, of the protest, just as Rosa Parks was not protesting public transportation.
But many Americans simply have misgivings about protests during patriotic ceremonies, because they love the country and it hurts to see it criticized. Because they don't experience them first hand, they don't understand how these problems are so pressing, so morally urgent, that they have to disrupt a fun diversion from a chaotic and frightening world—perhaps the highlight of their week. If we are ever going to put this country back together again, these gaps of understanding must be bridged. And it seems we may have come upon a political figure capable of doing that in one Beto O'Rourke, candidate for United States Senate from the state of Texas.
The young Democrat was asked about the protests at a recent town hall—O'Rourke has visited each of the state's 254 counties—and he unleashed a defense of the athletes' peaceful protest that placed it in the context of a long historical struggle for civil rights in this country. He sees in it an aspect of the ideal American character: a willingness to make your voice heard in opposition to profound injustice.
O'Rourke is calm but forceful here. He is open to the idea that many disagree and that the ground they stand on does not necessarily place them beyond understanding or redemption. He gives a simple answer: “No. I don't think it's disrespectful.” Then he elaborates, using history to put the present in context, and to illuminate the opposition as well as the protesters in their full humanity. But most of all, he displays a basic integrity and decency that has been drowned out of our discourse, replaced with vicious cynicism and pantomime posturing.
If ever you needed a reminder of that, you need only look to O'Rourke's opponent, Ted Cruz. The oleaginous Texas senator has long positioned himself as someone who, yeah, is a sanctimonious, grating dweeb, but only because he won't give an inch on his principles.
Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater and “Boyhood” producer Cathleen Sutherland have put together a short film contest called “Reel In The Votes” in support of Beto O’Rourke’s campaign to become the next United States senator from Texas.
“We are accepting 2-3 minute stories (narrative or non-fiction) as well as 30-second spots in line with Beto’s strive for change,” the project’s website reads.
Texas-rooted filmmakers Robert Rodriguez (whose big budget blockbuster “Alita” opens in December) and Ethan Hawke (whose new film “Blaze,” about Austin songwriter Blaze Foley, is out now) will help judge the contest. Submissions are open now and due no later than Sept. 21. The submission link can be found at the website.
And if you need more proof that we can win this race:
Ã¢ÂÂ Markos Moulitsas (@markos) August 13, 2018
I’m heading to El Paso this weekend to visit relatives and I am looking forward to seeing the Beto-Mania in person. But let’s keep up the momentum and win this damn thing! Click here to donate and get involved with Beto’s campaign.