Update, 4:55 p.m.: After reviewing Houston Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick's poll, Jason Johnson, a spokesman for the Ted Cruz campaign, had a number of lingering questions. “I certainly understand them not wanting to release crosstabs,” Johnson told the Tribune. “But normally, one would at least release the questionnaire.”

In addition to wanting to know the wording of the questions, Johnson said he would like to know more about the geographic distribution of the sample, which he said was small for a statewide campaign.

“It certainly would not be a surprise at this point in the campaign that Patrick would enjoy some name ID advantage over a number of the other candidates,” Johnson said, “but the reality is that that doesn’t matter today. The real story of this poll is that at the end of the day, this is still a wide-open race.”

Johnson said the Cruz campaign has been focused on raising money and securing key endorsements and does not have plans to do polling anytime soon.

Earlier story:

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, would be hard to beat in a bid for U.S. Senate, according to a poll released today by state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.

Patrick, who announced the formation of an exploratory committee at the end of the regular session, isn't throwing his hat in the ring of contenders to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison just yet. However, a poll he released today appears to indicate that if he did, he'd be an instant front-runner.

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Patrick garnered 19 percent of the support when pitted against the candidates who have officially announced their campaigns for U.S. Senate. Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert comes in second with 11 percent. Former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams received 6 percent. Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones got 4 percent, and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz is trailing with 2 percent. Most, 58 percent, were undecided.

The poll of 450 likely Republican primary voters was conducted by California-based polling firm Dresner Wickers Barber Sanders on June 4-5 and has a 5 percent margin of error. Patrick is not releasing the crosstabs of the poll, though he told the Tribune that the 40-question survey included match-ups against other potential candidates like Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. "To release that now would be premature," Patrick said.

Of the candidates currently in the race, Patrick said, "Some of them have created buzz. They're all good folks. But the reality is, at this point, that six months of campaigning haven't gotten them very far." Other than Leppert, Patrick said, the candidates still have "a very long way to go" to be competitive statewide.

"I don't think there would be anyone in the media or anyone in politics or anyone in the grassroots who would argue the fact that I've stuck to my principles and my guns and have become the conservative leader on the floor," Patrick said of his time in the state Senate.

Cruz is the candidate currently running whom Patrick considers to be the most like-minded conservative. In his poll, Patrick lead Cruz 29 percent to 6 percent (with 64 percent still undecided) in a potential run-off. "I just wanted to show that from the conservative branch of the party, at this point we have a strong lead," he said, noting that he considers Leppert a moderate.

Patrick said he would likely decide whether to enter the race before the end of July. Now that he's satisfied that he has sufficient support, he said he must determine if he can raise the necessary funds to launch a statewide campaign, if the U.S. Senate is the best place — with potential openings in the governor's and lieutenant governor's offices coming up in 2014 — to advance the conservative cause and if it's a move his family supports.

"This information is not a push poll," he said. "These were real questions asked to Republicans at random because I needed to know for myself where the race stood at this point — and do I have a reasonable chance to win. If you don't have a reasonable chance to win, you shouldn't ask people for money and you shouldn't expend the effort."

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