Skip to comments.TX: Numbers bode well for Dewhurst in runoff, his pollster says (counting his chickens.....)
Posted on 06/01/2012 1:52:48 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has strong support from repeated Republican primary voters as well as senior citizens, two groups that are more likely to turn out for a July runoff for U.S. Senate, according to a Dewhurst campaign memo written by pollster Mike Baselice.
Supporters of former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, a tea party favorite who placed second in Tuesdays vote, have argued that Cruz would be favored in a runoff because his supporters are more enthusiastic and likely to show up for an unusual, mid-summer vote.
So the Baselice memo was clearly intended to rebut that argument.
Recent internal campaign polling found that Dewhurst has a 65 percent favorable rating compared to 40 percent for Cruz, Baselice wrote. And Dewhurst is heavily preferred by voters who backed former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, the third-place finisher.
With 85 percent of the precincts reporting, Dewhurst was leading with about 45 percent of the vote while Cruz had nearly 34 percent. Baselice said that number bodes will for Dewhurst.
While we should expect a normal post-election tightening of numbers, history demonstrates why Dewhurst is in a strong position to become U.S. Senator: every Republican candidate with over 43 percent going into a statewide runoff during the last 20 years has gone on to win, Baselice wrote.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was once heavily favored to win Texas' open U.S. Senate seat.
Forced into a July 31 runoff against tea party darling Ted Cruz, Dewhurst's advantage evaporated when he failed to capture more than 50 percent of the primary vote Tuesday, political observers say.
Cruz, a lawyer who served as Texas' solicitor general, has enough energy, momentum and buzz after a strong second-place finish in the nine-person GOP primary to perhaps overcome Dewhurst's money and name recognition.
"Dewhurst is a slight favorite, but this is going to be a close, competitive runoff," said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
Cruz will need a big infusion of money to compete with Dewhurst's deep pockets. Dewhurst has already put $10 million of his own money into the race and might drop millions more.
But Dewhurst's hefty campaign coffer is no longer the game changer it once was.
The key to winning the runoff is targeting the voters who will show up rather than reaching a lot of voters through expensive television ads.
Cruz allies in Texas and across the country are eager to topple another card-carrying member of the Republican Party establishment. And with few other big contests around the country this summer, Dewhurst will have their undivided attention.
"It is fair to say that there is a big debate within the Republican Party over its future, and Texas' Senate race is the most obvious battleground in that fight over the next two months," said Barney Keller, spokesman for the Club for Growth, a limited government group that spent $2.5 million on ads criticizing Dewhurst as too moderate.
Asked if Club for Growth would be pumping more into the runoff, Keller said to "stay tuned."
Dewhurst spokesman Matt Hirsch said Dewhurst is committed personally and financially to win the runoff.
"This is a race between a Texas conservative businessman and a lawyer funded by Washington special interests," Hirsch said.
In this fight to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the candidates clashed over who would uphold the conservative priorities of cutting federal spending and ending federal health care reform.
Dewhurst won the backing of 44.6 percent of the 1.4 million total primary voters while Cruz claimed 34.2 percent.
While that is a sizeable gap in support, the midsummer runoff is expected to draw far fewer voters.
A recent poll from Public Policy Polling, an independent firm, showed that Cruz's supporters were more energized and likely to vote again than Dewhurst supporters.
"Although Dewhurst did better, his support is an inch deep and a mile wide. The runoff electorate will be even more skewed than the primary electorate. It will be a real test for Dewhurst," said University of Texas government professor Sean Theriault.
Dewhurst pollster Mike Baselice, however, released internal survey results late Tuesday night meant to counter the message that Cruz had the momentum in the runoff.
The polling showed Dewhurst held big leads among two groups that are likely to show up in large numbers in July: senior citizens and people who have voted in repeated Republican primaries.
Another positive indicator for Dewhurst, Baselice noted, was that supporters of third-place finisher Tom Leppert strongly preferred Dewhurst to Cruz 50 percent to 20 percent.
Leppert, a wealthy businessman and a former mayor of Dallas, won 13.3 percent of the vote.
"That 13 percent will decide the election one way or another either in how they turn out or who they are for," Sabato said. "Leppert could be a kingmaker."
Leppert has no plan to endorse either Dewhurst or Cruz at this point, spokesman Daniel Keylin said.
And Dewhurst might have burned a bridge with Leppert last week by releasing a TV spot and website that painted Leppert as a liberal akin to President Barack Obama. Leppert's campaign called the attacks "bald-faced lies."
Sabato said to expect a lot more negative campaigning over the next two months from both sides.
During an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham Wednesday morning, Dewhurst reiterated claims that have been the basis of a series of attack ads on Cruz.
The late negative ads don't appear to have turned voters against Cruz.
Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday that Cruz had the clear momentum in the closing week of the race.
"Dewhurst won early voters by 18 points but looks to have won election day voters by only a little bit over 3 points. It makes you wonder if any of those early Dewhurst voters might end up shifting to Cruz in a runoff," Jensen wrote. "Dewhurst should win in July but there are some reasons to think it could get interesting." [end text]
Cruz is exactly in the position post primary election that he wanted be a year ago. His whole strategy was to come in a strong second in the primary and get into the runoff. The quick fund raising he did in 2011 encouraged some of his potentially strongest strongest competitors such as Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones to not enter the senate race and run for other offices.
Cruz voters are more excited and are more likely to turn out in a low turnout runoff!!!
Cruz pulled off a coup by forcing a run off. 3 weeks ago no one had even given him a chance. He definitiely has the “big mo”
Do the right thing, Mayor Leppert. Endorse Cruz.
I saw an another thread where a FReeper had proudly admitted voting for Dewhurst. I thought: Are you crazy? Or are you just not paying attention.
I suggest we lay aside a few extras the next two month and send Cruz a few shekels. We really need conservatives in the Senate...just look at Alexander and Corker from TN and Cochran from MS and their wussy attitude toward the UN’s Sea Treaty effort to emasculate the US’s interests.
:) Fight on Tea Party and let’s take them down one at a time.
There’s at least 3 pro-DewCrist liberal trolls on FR.
In the interest of full disclosure, it must be admitted that anytime anyone points out that The Fieldmarshall has made a mistake, The Fieldmarshall accuses that person of being a liberal troll.
Here’s one of the trolls.
Texas will choose Cruz over Dewhurst, bank on it!!!
Well I have missed your prior posts. Why is Dewhurst a better option?
How is Dewhurst - who single-handedly murdered the Sanctuary Cities Ban in the Senate last year - so popular with Texans?
I think had the primary been closer, I would be thinking Cruz would be in decent position. Really thought he had momentum and clearly had Dewhurst on his heels, because rather than running his rather irritating “My dad was in WWII so vote for me” ad, he went hard with the Chinese connection stuff.
Cruz supporters are likely more enthusiastic, but I don’t think there will be enough of them to get him past Dewhurst in the runoff.
I don’t live in Texas, but I admit I haven’t been paying attention to this race. What is wrong with Dewhurst?
Dewhurst is not terrible; he's just center-right establishment, and we have far too much of that in the US Senate already. On second thought, center-right establishment is pretty terrible in practice.
As Lt Gov, he has firmly placed himself in opposition to conservative initiatives on immmigration and other issues, successfully blocking conservatives and steering a moderate course.
If you believe that the federal government needs bold reform, center-right status quo types are just not reasonable candidates choices, unless perhaps they are in a general election against a committed Marxist.
He would still be 100X better than a D.
He isn’t. I don’t support DewCrist.
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