Latest Poll Shows Texas U.S. Senate Races Could Head to Runoffs

By: Ross Ramsey, Texas Tribune
By: Ross Ramsey, Texas Tribune

U.S. Senate Race
UT/Texas Tribune Poll

David Dewhurst - 40%
Ted Cruz - 31%
Tom Leppert - 17%

Paul Sadler - 29%
Sean Hubbard - 25%
Addie Dainell Allen - 19%
Grady Yarbrough - 15%

Texas’ Republican primary for U.S. Senate is close — and could be headed for a July 31 runoff — with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst holding a single-digit lead over former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.

Dewhurst had the support of 40 percent of likely voters, followed by Cruz at 31 percent. Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert had 17 percent and broadcaster and former football player Craig James was at 4 percent, with five other GOP candidates bringing up the rear.

Daron Shaw, a UT-Austin government professor and co-director of the poll, said Cruz has been able to position himself to the right of the lieutenant governor for a May 29 Republican primary where that's a big advantage — and he's done that in a year in which insurgent candidates have been scoring big wins against establishment Republicans.

In Indiana, longtime U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar fell to state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in a GOP primary race that some framed as an establishment-versus-insurgent result (it was also a cautionary tale for incumbents falling out of touch with constituents). In Nebraska, state Sen. Deb Fischer, an outsider candidate backed by Sarah Palin, defeated state Attorney General Jon Bruning and state Treasurer Don Stenberg in the Republican primary for an open U.S. Senate seat after the two focused their attacks on each other and left her a path to victory. A good showing by Cruz could be read as another thread in that fabric.

"If they're in a runoff, Dewhurst is in trouble," Shaw said.

The Democrats, too, could be building to a July finish, probably between former state Rep. Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard, according to the poll.

Sadler led the Democrats with 29 percent, but was followed closely — and within the poll's margin of error — by Hubbard. Two other candidates — Addie Dainell Allen and Grady Yarbrough — also registered double-digit support.

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