U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz starts as the Texas favorite in a fantasy 2016 Republican primary for president, swamping Gov. Rick Perry and a number of other big-name candidates in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
The governor fared better in a potential head-to-head matchup for re-election in 2014 against Attorney General Greg Abbott, who got less than half the support Perry got from self-identified Republican primary voters.
Cruz, virtually unknown just 18 months ago as he began his long-shot bid for the Senate, had two and a half times more support than the governor, whose national popularity peaked and then plummeted during his bid for president in the 2012 elections.
“What you’re seeing here with the Cruz number is that he has become the pre-eminent rising conservative in Texas,” said poll co-director Jim Henson, who runs the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “What we’re witnessing in the numbers is Cruz running ahead and reaching back for the baton, and Rick Perry has the baton. The only question is whether Rick Perry is ready to hand it to him.”
A quarter of those polled chose Cruz, who was followed by U.S. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, at 13 percent, and Marco Rubio of Florida, at 11 percent. Perry was next at 10 percent, followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Rep. and 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who were tied at 8 percent. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal each won the support of 2 percent.
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