Ted Cruz leads David Dewhurst in the intense Republican Senate runoff in Texas, according to a new poll released Sunday evening.
In the final survey from Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) before Tuesday's runoff, Cruz leads Dewhurst among likely voters, 52 percent to 42 percent. The PollTracker Average currently shows Cruz holding a 5-point advantage over Dewhurst.
Cruz, the former state solicitor general, has emerged as the favorite candidate of the tea party. He campaigned with former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin last week and his candidacy has been energized by momentum at the grassroots level in the months since the May Republican primary. Dewhurst, the state lieutenant governor backed by Gov. Rick Perry and other members of the Texas Republican establishment, topped a crowded primary field but failed to eclipse the 50 percent threshold necessary to win the nomination outright.
That set the stage for a runoff with Cruz, who finished 11-points behind Dewhurst in the primary. Cruz has generated considerable enthusiasm since then, while Dewhurst has been forced to spend much of his own money. The two candidates are vying to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R).
From PPP's analysis:
Cruz has a 63-33 advantage with voters who describe themselves as 'very excited' about voting in Tuesday's runoff election. He also has a 49-45 advantage with those describing themselves as 'somewhat excited.' The only reason this race is even remotely competitive is Dewhurst's 59-31 lead with voter who say they're 'not that excited' about voting. It's an open question whether those folks will really show up and if they don't it's possible Cruz could end up winning by closer to 20 points.
The greater excitement among Cruz voters can also be measured by their eagerness to get out and cast their ballots during the early voting period. Cruz leads 55-40 among those who say they've already voted, so Dewhurst will likely need a huge advantage among election day voters to overcome the deficit. But Cruz has a 49-44 lead with those who have yet to vote too.