Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz has a 10-point lead over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP race to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, according to the latest poll from Public Policy Polling.
The North Carolina-based firm, which surveys races nationally using automated telephone polls, found Cruz leading Dewhurst 52 percent to 42 percent among likely voters in Tuesday's Republican primary runoff. Among voters who identify with the Tea Party, Cruz's lead grows dramatically to 75 percent to 22 percent.
Among those who said they had already voted, Cruz was ahead of Dewhurst 55 percent to 40 percent, according to the poll, suggesting Dewhurst needs a large majority of voters to favor him on Tuesday.
Another finding suggests former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has more clout among Texas Republicans than the state's own governor. Likely runoff voters said they were were 31 percent more likely to vote for someone endorsed by Palin, while only 16 percent were more likely to cast a ballot for a candidate endorsed by Gov. Rick Perry, according to the poll. Another 35 percent said they were less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Perry.
"Cruz's victory is driven by 4 things: the Tea Party, the enthusiasm of his supporters, a generational divide within the Texas Republican ranks, and the lack of regard the party base currently holds for Rick Perry," Tom Jensen, the firm's polling director, wrote in a blog post. He noted that a victory for Cruz raises questions of whether Perry could survive a primary challenge in 2014 if he decided to run for re-election.
The poll was conducted Saturday and Sunday. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.
It’s the sixth poll on the race conducted by PPP since September, when Dewhurst was leading the pack with 41 percent and Cruz trailed far behind at 12 percent.
The organization’s last poll, from earlier this month, showed Cruz leading Dewhurst 49 percent to 44 percent.
The poll results follow a triumphant few days for Cruz, who appeared at rallies alongside Palin, pundit Glenn Beck and Republican U.S. Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky. On Sunday evening, the headline atop Politico’s homepage read, “Cruz looks poised for Texas triumph.”
Dewhurst hopes to capture some attention Monday with a full day of events, starting with a visit to a South Austin Chick-fil-A (support for the fast food chain has become a conservative bellwether since its president took a stand against same-sex marriage). Later, he’ll appear in San Antonio with Perry. That afternoon, Dewhurst and Perry will be joined at a campaign call center in Dallas by former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former ESPN analyst Craig James. Leppert and James finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat in May. Both have endorsed Dewhurst in the runoff.
Cruz does not have any public events scheduled for Monday, campaign spokesman James Bernsen said.
Earlier Sunday, the Dewhurst campaign released the results of an internal poll showing Dewhurst leading Cruz 48 percent to 43 percent among likely GOP runoff voters. The live telephone poll was conducted July 24 - 26 by Dewhurst's polling firm, Baselice & Associates.