Texas lawyer Ted Cruz leads Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst among Republican voters in a survey before a runoff election to pick the party’s candidate to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the U.S. Senate
Cruz topped Dewhurst 49 percent to 44 percent, according to the automated telephone survey by Public Policy Polling in Raleigh, North Carolina. Almost three weeks remain before the vote on July 31.
“The race is one of the most stark examples of the Tea Party movement propelling a candidate that we’ve seen to date,” the polling company said today in a statement on its website.
In a bid to become the first Latino senator from Texas, Cruz, 41, has courted the same political forces that helped Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock defeat six-term Republican Senator Richard Lugar in a May primary. Dewhurst, who leads the Republican-dominated state Senate and has the support of Governor Rick Perry, has spent millions of his own fortune to defeat the former state solicitor general.
Cruz has been helped by the Club for Growth, a Washington-based group aligned with Tea Party supporters that said today it will spend $1.5 million on advertisements backing him in the runoff. The group spent almost $2 million on ads targeting Dewhurst, 66, in a May election that narrowed the field to two.
Public Policy Polling said support for Cruz grew to 59 percent while Dewhurst’s fell to 36 percent among voters who said they were “very excited” about casting ballots at the end of the month, a sign that low turnout probably will help Cruz.
Matt Hirsch, a spokesman for Dewhurst, said the campaign had no comment.
“The people are rallying behind him because they know that he will fight to reduce the size of government and defend the Constitution,” a Cruz spokesman, James Bernsen, said by e-mail.
The poll of 468 likely voters was conducted July 10-11 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.