While the smart money, if such a thing exists among those willing to gamble on the whims of voters, is still on incumbent Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke got his most encouraging polling news yet in his bid to unseat Cruz.
According to a new survey from Emerson College released Monday morning, the Democratic challenger trails Cruz by just a single point, 38-37, among 550 registered voters surveyed between Aug. 22 and Aug. 25, with 21 percent of those polled still undecided in what's become one of the nation's most hotly contested Senate elections.
While numerous polls have shown O'Rourke and Cruz in a single-digit race, the Emerson survey stands out because of its concurrent polling of another race. According to the poll, incumbent Greg Abbott leads former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez 48-28 in their race for governor.
As the Cruz-O'Rourke election has heated up, many experts have identified getting a large percentage of Abbott voters to split their tickets as one of O'Rourke's biggest challenges.
"If you believe that Abbott is going to win by, at a minimum, somewhere between 10 and 12 points, then you have to assume that that percentage of people would be willing to vote for Beto O'Rourke over Ted Cruz in this hyperpolarized partisan environment that we find ourselves in," Rice University political scientice Mark Jones told the Observer earlier this year.
In addition to pointing to a close Senate race, the Emerson poll also highlights a generational divide among Texas voters. O'Rourke leads Cruz among those between 18 and 34 years of age by 19 points, 47-28, while Cruz hold leads of 47-33 and 39-17 among those surveyed between 55 and 74 years old and those over 75 years old respectively.
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