Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz leads challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, by 3.6 percentage points among likely voters in a new University of Texas at Tyler poll released Wednesday.
According to the poll, which is the first one released by the university, 47 percent of the 905 likely voters surveyed online and on the phone said they would vote for Cruz, while 43.4 percent said they would vote for O’Rourke; 5.7 percent said they were “not sure,” and 3.9 percent chose “other.”
Among registered voters in the poll, Cruz’s lead was slightly larger at 4.3 percentage points, with 46.5 percent of respondents saying they would vote for Cruz, 42.2 percent saying they would vote for O’Rourke, 7.7 percent saying they were “not sure” and 3.5 percent choosing “other.”
The poll follows a slate of polls that show Cruz’s lead over O’Rourke narrowing. A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday said Cruz was up by 5 percentage points, and a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Friday showed Cruz up by 6.
The UT-Tyler poll was conducted Oct. 15-28 and surveyed 1,033 adults. The margin of error among likely voters was 3.26 percentage points, while the margin of error among registered voters was 3.03 percentage points, according to Mark Owens, a political science professor at UT-Tyler who helped run the poll.
Owens said Democratic respondents cared most about health care issues. Republican respondents cared most about immigration issues.
“The poll shows that voters in Texas are more nuanced on the issue of immigration,” Owens said. “They know that the details matter.”
While 63.3 percent of registered voters in the poll strongly supported or supported improved security along the U.S. border with Mexico, 57.4 percent also strongly supported or supported the creation of a “guest worker” program that would give a temporary visa to noncitizens who want to work legally in the United States.
“Overall, people are welcoming to individuals who identify they want to be here for economic reasons,” Owens said.
The poll separated out voters by age, race, gender, income and educational level. Owens said there was “a lot of excitement” for O’Rourke among the youngest voters in the poll — those younger than 29 — while Cruz beat O’Rourke in all other age categories. He also noted a slight edge for O’Rourke among independents.
In the Texas gubernatorial race, the poll found that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott leads his Democratic challenger, Lupe Valdez, by 20.88 percentage points among likely voters and 20.4 percentage points among registered voters.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Tyler has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.