Last week, I was honored to join thousands of conservatives at a rally in Dallas to support GOP Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz, whose upstart campaign has lit a Tea Party fire in his state and across the country. The runoff is tomorrow and the latest PPP poll shows Cruz with big momentum:
PPP’s final poll of the Republican Senate runoff in Texas finds Ted Cruz opening up a 52-42 lead, an increase from our survey two weeks ago that found him ahead 49-44.
Cruz’s victory is driven by 4 things: the Tea Party, the enthusiasm of his supporters, a generational divide within the Texas Republican ranks, and the lack of regard the party base currently holds for Rick Perry.
Cruz is ahead by a whooping 75-22 margin with Tea Party voters, more than making up for a 56-39 deficit to Dewhurst with voters who don’t consider themselves members of that movement. There has been too much of a tendency to ascribe any Republican primary upset over the last few years to Tea Party voters, but this is one case where it’s well justified.
Cruz has a 63-33 advantage with voters who describe themselves as ‘very excited’ about voting in Tuesday’s runoff election. He also has a 49-45 advantage with those describing themselves as ‘somewhat excited.’ The only reason this race is even remotely competitive is Dewhurst’s 59-31 lead with voter who say they’re ‘not that excited’ about voting. It’s an open question whether those folks will really show up and if they don’t it’s possible Cruz could end up winning by closer t0 20 points.
The greater excitement among Cruz voters can also be measured by their eagerness to get out and cast their ballots during the early voting period. Cruz leads 55-40 among those who say they’ve already voted, so Dewhurst will likely need a huge advantage among election day voters to overcome the deficit. But Cruz has a 49-44 lead with those who have yet to vote too.
…Runoffs are unpredictable and it still seems possible that Dewhurst could win on Tuesday, but for now it looks like all the momentum since the primary has gone in Ted Cruz’s direction.
Back in February, I wrote about how Tea Party activists were looking down the ballot for inspiration and lifting up a stellar slate of candidates:
The tea party isn’t dead. It’s just looking down ballot. While fiscal conservatives remain split over the GOP presidential candidates, grassroots activists are coalescing around a stellar slate of limited-government candidates looking to reinforce and reenergize the right in Washington. And in the spirit of the modern-day tea party movement, no entrenched incumbent — Democrat or Republican — is safe.
…In Texas, young attorney Ted Cruz is making waves in the GOP race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The former Texas solicitor general is a 10th Amendment scholar who doesn’t just speak the tea party’s language. Cruz has put constitutional conservatism into action, winning many of the 40 cases he has argued in front of the Supreme Court. Cruz isn’t afraid to challenge the GOP establishment. In 2008, he successfully battled the Bush administration and meddling globalists all the way to the high court to prevent international law from superseding American sovereignty.
The GOP needs just four seats to take control of the Senate.
…Remember: Entrenched incumbency is the disease. Fresh blood is the cure.
Over the last month, GOP Gov. Rick Perry’s pet establishment candidate, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, has melted down and blown a massive lead. All the deep pockets in the world can’t save him from a slimy record of expedient careerism that is turning off voters — and biting Gov. Perry, too.
I asked Cruz what he attributed to his meteoric rise. Was it just “his time?”
No, he told me, as he expressed profound gratitude for the legions of limited-government activists on the ground who have battled conventional wisdom, party bosses, and big money on his behalf.
“It’s our time.”
Here’s Cruz speaking to FREEPAC Thursday night:
Update Tuesday night: Polls are now closed. Twitchy Team is monitoring the results. Early vote count is looking good for Cruz. Waiting for establishment GOP heads to explode…
Update: CRUZ WINS!!! Hear the “dead” Tea Party roar:
Former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, a tea party-aligned conservative once regarded as a long-shot candidate, has won the Republican runoff in Texas, where he will be the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in the November election. The Associated Press has called the race for Cruz over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Cruz will be a heavy favorite over Democratic nominee Paul Sadler, who also won a runoff on Tuesday.
Cruz, an emerging conservative star whose father emigrated to the United States from Cuba, has drawn comparisons to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and has been lauded by national conservative political pundits and groups for over a year. His victory is a major blow to the Republican establishment in Texas, which lined up squarely behind Dewhurst. It’s also a victory for the tea party and national conservatives who lined up behind Cruz even when a surprise win appeared unlikely.
Cruz’s win is a remarkable political feat and arguably the Senate upset of the cycle. In early 2011, when Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced her intention to retire, observers regarded Dewhurst as a virtual shoo-in to take her place in the upper chamber. Dewhurst is very well-known in Texas, enjoys immense personal wealth, and enlisted the help of Gov. Rick Perry’s top political hands. Perry endorsed Dewhurst during the campaign.
But in a multiple-candidate primary election that also included former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert on May 29, Dewhurst was unable to cross the crucial 50 percent threshold, managing just 45 percent of the vote to Cruz’s 34 percent.
Once the two-month overtime period was triggered, Cruz seized on new momentum. He outraised Dewhurst 3-1 in the first third of July and brought in an impressive cast of national conservative stars to stump with him during the closing weekend of the campaign. Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who both endorsed Cruz’s candidacy, campaigned for him Friday in the Houston area.
How’s that “receding Tea Party wave” working out for ya, Bob Bennett?