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Let’s be honest, Texas Senate is a Tossup.

I saw a headline last week that read ‘Ted Cruz Gets A Boost Out Of Texas’ that really intrigued me. It wasn’t because I’m from Texas (I’m not), or really care too much about Ted Cruz (I don’t); I was interested because reading Cruz “holds a substantial lead over his Democratic rival” makes zero sense to me… And it shouldn’t to anyone else either.

Ok, so to give the journalist some credit, their argument was that Cruz was leading big time new polls, which is kinda accurate – they point to Cruz leading Allred 46% to 33% in one poll, and 45% to 36% in another.

And why would a journalist think anything other than ‘Cruz is dominating’ when seeing these numbers? It’s not like there are other narratives out there saying that he isn’t going to win. Heck, in Cook’s Senate Ratings (for Republican-held seats), Cruz’s seat is listed as ‘Likely’ Republican:

But alas, I am not a journalist. I’m a campaign strategist, and there are some MAJOR red flags if you’re in the Cruz camp.

First off, let’s remember that Cruz’s last Senate race in 2018: he won by only 2.6 points. That’s a pretty narrow margin. To put this into perspective, in 2018 there were 35 Senate races… Only two were decided by a narrower margin than Texas.

And a lot has changed since 2018, especially in Texas.

Since 2018, no other state has had more people ‘move’ to it. Looking at Census data over the past year, I see that 67% of the state’s growth comes from migration – meaning they’re not just having a lot of kids in Texas, rather, people are moving there from other states. What’s also noticeable is that the people moving to Texas by and large aren’t moving to Texas ranches – they’re moving to Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston (urban and suburban areas). And if you’re unfamiliar with Texas politics, a little note for you: Cruz does really well in rural areas, not as much so in these growing urban or suburban areas.

Looking at the 2018 close-of-book November registration numbers, there were 15,793,257 registered voters. As of March (not November, but March) 2024, there are 17,948,242 registered voters in the state. That’s over 2 million ‘new’ voters. Cruz only won last election by 200K votes… If only half of these ‘new’ registered voters vote on election day, and they go 60/40 in favor of Allred, Cruz’s win margin from 2018 is instantly gone.

And where are these new residents coming from you ask?.. California . . . Far and away, new residents to (red) Texas are from (blue) California. So that 60/40 ‘new’ voter margin isn’t crazy out of the picture…

Ok, so forget that Texas of today isn’t Texas of 2018; in the survey Cruz is only taking home 46% of the vote… You know how many Senators win elections with 46% of the vote? Zero. There are zero amount of Senators that win with 46% of the vote. That on its face should be worrying for the Senator. But it gets worse.

Trump isn’t helping as much as he did in the past. In ‘16, Trump won the state by 9 points. In ’20, that lead shrunk to 5 and a half points. Today in the polling, Trump is only pulling in 48% of the vote… Only 48% for the Republican presidential candidate, in Texas… That is not going to help Cruz.

As for Ted’s ‘huge’ 13-point advantage: 15% of the electorate say they haven’t thought about the race enough to have an opinion, and 7% are saying they’ll vote for someone else. This isn’t good for Cruz, because Cruz is already a known entity. Only 3% of respondents in the survey said they ‘didn’t know/have an opinion’ of Cruz. Allred on the other hand: 21% didn’t know or have an opinion, and 22% said he was neither favorable nor unfavorable.

However, among those who do have an opinion of the candidates, Allred’s positive net favorability rating DOUBLES Cruz’s. That is to say, with 5 or so months to go until election day, more people are going learn who Colin Allred is, and based on his favorability ratings, more people are going to find him favorable than unfavorable. The 20% or so of people not yet ‘voting’ for either of the candidates in the race will shrink, and Allred will close the gap.

Bottom line: if you’re a sitting Senator up for reelection, and you’re not polling at 50%... Heck, if you’re down in the mid-40’s, you’re not a shoo-in… It’s worse when you’re polling 46% against an unknown opponent. Even worse when you’re in a state that has grown tremendously over the last 6 years, and all the new residents come from an ‘opposition’ state, and you had the third closest race in the nation the last time you were on the ticket.

Oh, and one last thing from the survey that I saw buried in the demographic section… If this race is immigration vs. abortion, Cruz might have some work to do on the latter as only 38% of Texans say they are pro-life:


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