TEXAS is home to the sleeper likeliest to emerge as a full-blown target. Polls have repeatedly shown that Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz is not a lock for reelection. While the RealClearPolitics polling average had him ahead by 6 points in late August, a recent NBC News/Marist poll found only a 4-point gap. That poll’s underlying demographic breakdowns show Cruz doing poorly among whites with college degrees, a finding that mirrors polling data about declining GOP support in this demographic across the country.
Cruz is ahead only because he has 42 percent of the Hispanic vote, an unusually high share for a Republican in a competitive contest. His Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, has so far raised millions more dollars than Cruz, giving him the ability to wage a serious campaign in Texas’ large and expensive television media markets. Texas is such a Republican state that one must still rate Cruz as the favorite, but no one should be surprised if the race tightens considerably once O’Rourke hits the airwaves in earnest.