For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about the down-ballot effect of Donald Trump in Texas.
Nearly half the respondents said the GOP presidential nominee would have "a measurable effect" on down-ballot races in Texas with another one-third of the insiders saying that Trump wouldn't have an impact on Texas races.
We then offered a handful of prominent Texas Republicans (and one prominent outside politician) and asked which of those was proving most adept at managing any Trump effect in the state.
The top response, though, was "none of the above," which was named by 28 percent of the insiders. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was the top choice otherwise, listed by 26 percent of the insiders. He was followed by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (19 percent), U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (16 percent) and Land Commissioner George P. Bush (6 percent).
We then pivoted to a couple of questions about Cruz, Trump's most prominent non-supporter in Texas. We began by asking if his convention speech, in which he pointedly did not endorse Trump, guarantees him a challenger in 2018 when he is up for re-election.
Nearly half the insiders thought Cruz would get a serious challenger in both the primary and general elections. Another 23 percent thought he'd get a serious challenge in just the party primary. A fifth of the insiders weren't convinced that Cruz is vulnerable, saying he wouldn't get a serious challenger at all.
If he were to get a primary challenger, though, 37 percent of the insiders thought the challenge would come from Austin Congressman Michael McCaul while 25 percent thought Patrick would enter the primary.
We collected comments along the way, and a full set of those is attached.
Is Donald Trump having a measurable effect on down-ballot races in Texas?
• "Answered 'yes,' but who the heck really knows? Haven't found any precedent for this bizarre election cycle."
• "Let's hope so. If the Ds can't make progress with Trump on the top of the opposite ticket, it'll be decades before they can control the state."
• "Hard to say at this point in the summer. Without polling data, you can't say one way or another whether Trump is having an effect. Aside from Hurd-Gallego, I don't think anyone is polling right now. And in that race, I don't think Trump is having the negative effect Pete and the DCCC had hoped for."
• "Yes. He's helping to separate the men from the boys. The men are ready to saddle up and get on board. The boys are wringing their hands trying to figure out why their candidate didn't win the primary."
• "Too early to tell. I recommend asking the question again in late September."
Who among these Republicans is managing the Trump effect best?
• "Patrick has stuck with the issues — pushing Texas priorities like border and choice. Others are distracted by the personality problems."
• "Cruz is going to look like a Profile in Courage."
• "Dan Patrick is working the situation with his usual finesse. George P. gets an honorable mention for stepping up and making the difficult call, breaking from the family and endorsing."
• "Patrick is, as usual, the one to watch."
• "I think Ted Cruz looks smart for not endorsing someone that Republicans are running away from."
Does Cruz draw a serious challenger next cycle because of his convention speech?
• "Much depends upon what happens over the next 18 months or so regarding the primary. There will likely also be a 'serious' candidate in the general, who still will have no prayer."
• "Define serious? The better question is, can someone emerge who is conservative (we're still in Texas) but will be effective in a meaningful, positive way? I think the answer is yes. Money can't be the metric of seriousness — after all, anyone remember the dollar advantage Dewhurst had over TC?"
• "Depends is the only right answer now. If Trump gets swamped, Cruz won't be much hurt. If Trump runs close and wins or loses, Cruz will have problems."
• "When diehard grassroots question Cruz in public and don't care about repercussions, he left his flank open."
• "Ironically, his convention speech will be the example of the only time that Ted Cruz behaved like the adult in the room."
At this point, which Republican is most likely to challenge Cruz?
• "Don't know that McCaul jumps in, but he has all the tools to move up the food chain. He is a superb member of the House, and would make a terrific Senator — or President, for that matter. I'm a fan."
• "George P. Bush"
• "A businessman or woman outsider with no political experience."
• "Lowry Mays"
• "Shakes out after November — Patrick, Abbott, the list could grow. Anyone who runs better get their big boy pants on and get ready to rumble. Team Cruz will do anything, use anything and say anything to keep that seat."
Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Clyde Alexander, Jay Arnold, Charles Bailey, Dave Beckwith, Amy Beneski, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, Raif Calvert, Lydia Camarillo, Kerry Cammack, Elna Christopher, Kevin Cooper, Randy Cubriel, Beth Cubriel, Curtis Culwell, Denise Davis, Glenn Deshields, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Jack Erskine, Gay Erwin, Tom Forbes, Bruce Gibson, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, Clint Hackney, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Kathy Hutto, Deborah Ingersoll, Mark Jones, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Sandy Kress, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Myra Leo, Ruben Longoria, Matt Mackowiak, Jason McElvaney, Steve Minick, Bee Moorhead, Mike Moses, Todd Olsen, Gardner Pate, Robert Peeler, Jerry Philips, Wayne Pierce, Richard Pineda, Allen Place, Gary Polland, Jay Pritchard, Ted Melina Raab, Patrick Reinhart, Chuck Rice, Carl Richie, A.J. Rodriguez, Grant Ruckel, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Robert Scott, Steve Scurlock, Ben Sebree, Jason Skaggs, Ed Small, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, Sherry Sylvester, Sara Tays, Trey Trainor, Corbin Van Arsdale, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Michael Williams, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.