Beto O'Rourke trails Ted Cruz by just one point, says new poll

Ted Cruz's is in a much more competitive race than expected to retain his Senate seat, with a new Emerson poll showing him ahead of his Democratic challenger by only one point.
By Rick Docksai | Sep 08, 2018
Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke continues to gain momentum against incumbent Ted Cruz, with new poll data showing the two in a statistical tie. O'Rourke now trails Cruz by only one point in a newly released poll by Emerson College, fueling worry among Republican leaders who had assumed Cruz to be on solid ground given his state's deeply conservative climate.

The Emerson poll showed Cruz with 38% and O'Rourke with 37%. About 21% of respondents said they were still undecided, but Cruz's support seems to be waning among independents, 57% of whom rated him as unfavorable. The poll ran from August 22-25.

"In the last five weeks, it's become clear that the race has tightened," said David McIntosh, president of the conservative political organization Club for Growth. McIntosh said Tuesday that the Club is planning a seven-figure-plus fundraising push on Cruz's behalf.

The race has attracted national attention on both sides of the aisle. A video of O'Rourke defending NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality has gone viral in the last few days, with celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Kevin Bacon sharing it and pledging their support for the three-term representative. DeGeneres announced that she will have O'Rourke as a guest on her show.

O'Rourke is running roughly even with Cruz in fundraising, as well, having raised more than $23 million. O'Rourke's funds have mostly come from small donations. Cruz currently lags in cash on hand, with many big-time donors staying out of the race and focusing on other races so far.

O'Rourke has been considered a long shot for most of the race, as Cruz has led in every poll for the last few months. Also, Democrats have not won a Senate seat for Texas since 1988.

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