DALLAS — One of the first public polls of the 2024 U.S. Senate race in Texas shows Congressman Colin Allred trailing U.S. Senator Ted Cruz by only single digits.
The survey, commissioned by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation (TxHPF) and WFAA, shows Cruz with 47 percent support while Allred is at 40 percent in a head-to-head race for the U.S. Senate in the state’s 2024 general election.
Thirteen percent of respondents said they had not yet decided on a candidate.
The single-digit difference between Cruz and Allred reveals a surprising start for the North Texas congressman before the campaign season really ramps up -- and before Allred spends money on advertising to increase his name recognition outside of North Texas.
"Senator Cruz is two term incumbent who ran a strong campaign for President of the United States in 2016," said Jason Villalba, chairman of the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and former Republican Texas state representative. "For Congressman Allred to be within seven points of Cruz at the outset of this race is remarkable."
Added Villalba: “For comparison, Beto O’Rourke finished within two points of Sen. Cruz in the final tally of the 2018 race, but his high-water polling numbers were around 5-7 percent behind Cruz. Allred is beginning this race where O’Rourke left off. Based on these numbers, it looks to be another very competitive race for Sen. Cruz."
First, though, Allred will face other candidates in the Democratic primary next spring.
In addition to Allred, the financial advisor and former Midland City Council member John Love is also running for the Democratic nomination to U.S. Senate.
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, told WFAA that he will officially decide in July whether to launch his own campaign for U.S. Senate. Gutierrez has been the most outspoken Texas lawmaker since 19 fourth graders and two teachers were murdered in their classroom in Uvalde last May. Gutierrez pushed unsuccessfully this legislative session for the state to raise the minimum age to purchase certain semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.
Still, Allred leads Gutierrez by double digits, 33 percent to 22 percent. Love has 4 percent. A whopping 41 percent of Texas Democratic primary voters, however, remain undecided as the campaigns have yet to really spin up.
"Allred is the early leader among Democrats, but anyone who wins the Democratic nomination will have a difficult race against Cruz," said Dr. Mark P. Jones, TxHPF's director of research and analytics. "It will be critical for the Democratic nominee to introduce themselves to Texans over the course of the next year and make their case for change."
In addition to the U.S. Senate race, the survey also showed President Biden closing in on Donald Trump in Texas if the two meet in a rematch of the 2020 general election.
Trump has 44 percent support, and Biden trails him at 42 percent. In 2020, Trump defeated Biden in Texas, 52 percent to 46 percent.
But Trump, too, will face other candidates in a Republican primary next year, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who officially announced his candidacy on Wednesday.
Still, if the Texas GOP primary were held today, Trump would trounce DeSantis, the poll found. Trump carries 57 percent of support, DeSantis is at 36 percent and 5 percent are undecided. Another 2 percent of respondents said they would not vote if Trump and DeSantis were their only two options.
"Former President Trump maintains a commanding 21 percent lead over DeSantis in the race for the GOP nomination," Villalba said "But what is striking about these early numbers is how poorly both Trump and DeSantis are faring against President Biden. In each case, both Trump and DeSantis are only able to cobble together a 2 percent lead against Biden -- well within the standard of error of the poll. This suggests that that the influx of voters from other states, the changing demographics of the Texas and the shifting political positions of suburban and exurban Texans, is leading to the long predicted 'purple-ization' of the state."
The five Texas political figures with the highest favorable ratings among Texas registered voters are Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at 53 percent, Cruz at 49 percent, O’Rourke at 46 percent, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick at 45 percent and Attorney General Ken Paxton at 42 percent.
The five Texas political figures with the highest unfavorable ratings among Texas registered voters are O’Rourke and Cruz, both tied at 45 percent, Abbott at 43 percent, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn at 43 percent and Paxton at 40 percent.
Polls, of course, do not resent wholly conclusive predictions of upcoming elections -- the 2016 presidential election certainly comes to mind -- but they can serve as a good litmus test for the political climate.
The TxHPF surveyed 1,000 registered voters in May 2023.