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Poll showing Biden with a lead over Trump in Texas is not what it seems

Media reports of Quinnipiac poll overstate possibility that Trump is in trouble in the Lone Star State

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

AUSTIN (CFP) — Media organizations have been trumpeting results of a new poll that purports to show President Donald Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in Texas — a somewhat shocking result, given that a Democrat hasn’t carried the Lone Star State since 1976 and hasn’t been close since 1996.

But a closer look at the numbers of the Quinnipiac Poll show that, from a purely statistical perspective, those reports may be misleading.

The poll, released June 5, found Biden leading Trump by a margin of 48-44 percent among registered voters in Texas, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.

What that margin of error means is that Biden’s actual support among registered voters in Texas could be as high as 51.4 percent or as low as 44.6 percent; Trump’s actual support could be as high as 47.4 percent or as low as 40.6 percent.

Because those two intervals overlap, it is statistically possible that Trump is actually ahead, as the high end of his support is above the low end of Biden’s support. So although it is probable that Biden has a lead, because the range of his support is higher, the poll does not absolutely establish a lead for Biden.

In order to establish with statistical certainty that Biden is leading Trump, his lead would need to be at least 6.8 percent, or double the margin of error.

The poll’s results for hypothetical match-ups of Trump with other Democratic 2020 contenders are even more muddled because neither candidate has a lead larger than the margin of error, which means that no one can even be said to even probably be ahead.

The poll results do, however, indicate that at this early stage of the race, the battle for Texas is closer that what might be expected and Biden appears to be performing more strongly against Trump than other 2020 competitors, including two Texans, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.

In 2016, Trump carried Texas by more than 800,000 votes, a margin of 9 points.

The Quinnipiac poll did turn up one result well beyond the margin of error — 60 percent of Texas don’t want to see Trump impeached, while only 34 percent do.

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Poll: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has a lead over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke

New Quinnipiac survey finds Cruz up by 9 points, more than the margin of error

AUSTIN (CFP) — On the eve of the first debate in the Texas U.S. Senate contest, a new poll of likely voters shows that Democratic hopes — and Republican fears — of a competitive race this November may be overblown.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

A Quinnipiac University poll, released Sept. 18, found that Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz had a lead of 54 to 45 percent over his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke , a statistically significant lead in a poll with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

An August poll by Quinnipiac had found Cruz’s lead within the margin of error and his support under 50 percent. However, that was a survey of registered voters, rather than likely voters; likely voter polls are designed to weed out respondents who are unlikely to vote.

The poll found that women and voters who classify themselves as independents were evenly divided between the two candidates. But men favored Cruz by 15 points, and he led by 34 points among white voters.

O’Rourke’s support is stronger among Latinos, where he leads Cruz by 9 points, and among African Americans, where he leads by 94 points.

The biggest hurdle for O’Rourke may be that Cruz is viewed favorably by most likely voters in Texas, with 53 percent approving of his job performance, according to the poll.

His approval numbers are better than those for President Donald Trump, who is viewed favorably and unfavorably by 49 percent.

Cruz and O’Rourke are scheduled to meet in their first debate on Friday, Sept. 20.

Cruz, 47, was elected to the Senate in 2012 on his first try for political office. In 2016, he made an unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination, carrying 12 primaries and caucuses and finishing second in the delegate count behind Trump.

O’Rouke, 45, has represented metro El Paso in the House since 2013, after serving on the El Paso City Council. Although he is Irish and his given first name is Robert, he was nicknamed “Beto” — a Spanish nickname for Robert — from childhood.

His campaign has excited the Democratic base, drawing large crowds and media attention in a state that hasn’t seen a competitive Senate race in 30 years.

O’Rourke has also raised $23.6 million for the race, according to the latest Federal Elections Commission reports, slightly more than Cruz. The last time Cruz ran, in 2012, he outraised and outspent his Democratic opponent by a 2-to-1 margin, on his way to a 16-point victory.

Still, the odds against a Democrat in Texas are daunting. Republicans have won the last nine Senate races by an average margin of 19 percent.

Despite an often contentious relationship during the 2016 presidential race, Trump has announced that he would be “picking the biggest stadium in Texas we can find” for a rally for Cruz in October. No date has been announced.

The Texas race is one of six Southern states with open seats in 2018; the others are Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi, where both seats are on the ballot.

Four of those races are shaping up to be potentially competitive — Florida and West Virginia, which are currently held by Democrats, and Texas and Tennessee, held by Republicans.

Democrats need to make a net gain of two seats to take control of the Senate.

New poll shows Texas U.S. Senate race shaping up as the most competitive in a generation

Quinnipiac poll finds Democrat Beto O’Rourke within striking distance of Republican incumbent Ted Cruz

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

AUSTIN (CFP) — The last time a Democrat was within striking distance in a U.S. Senate contest in Texas, Ronald Reagan was president, people rented movies from a store and tweeting was only for the birds.

Since the last Democratic victory in 1988, the party’s nominees have lost nine Senate races in a row, all by double digits. The average size of their loss? 19 points.

Ted Cruz

Beto O’Rourke

But a new poll shows Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke is closing in on Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, cutting Cruz’s lead in half since May and raising the specter of seeing something this fall that hasn’t been seen deep in the heart of Texas for 30 years — a truly competitive Senate race.

A close race in Texas could also have national implications, as Republicans try to hang on to their slim one-vote majority in the Senate.

A Quinnipiac University poll released August 1 put Cruz at 49 percent and O’Rourke at 43 percent among registered voters in the Senate contest. With a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percent, that means that, statistically, Cruz’s lead is small enough to be the result of sampling error, rather than an actual lead.

But perhaps the most alarming bit of data in the poll for the Cruz campaign is that his 6-point lead now is down from an 11-point lead three months ago, and Cruz is now below 50 percent, a danger sign for an incumbent.

“O’Rourke has done a good job making the race competitive,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac Poll in a statement. “He is clearly in contention. A Democratic victory in the Lone Star State would be a serious blow to GOP hopes of keeping their U.S. Senate majority.”

The poll of 1,118 registered voters found Cruz leading among men and white voters, while O’Rouke was leading among women and African-American voters. O’Rourke has a 12-point lead among Latino voters, and the two men are running even among voters who describe themselves as independent.

The poll found Texans generally have a good opinion of Cruz — 50 percent approve of his job performance and view him favorably, while 42 percent disapprove and view him unfavorably. However, he is polling far behind the Republican running in the other marquis statewide race, Governor Greg Abbott, who had a 13-point lead over his Democratic challenger, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

By contrast, 43 percent of voters surveyed said the didn’t know enough about O’Rourke to offer an opinion of him, which means he remains something of an unknown quantity. And that could give the Cruz campaign an opening to try to define him negatively with voters over the rest of the campaign.

The poll also found that President Donald Trump’s approval rating in Texas was mixed, with 46 percent approving of his performance and 49 percent disapproving, which was within the margin of error.

The Quinnipiac poll surveyed registered voters rather than likely voters, making the results somewhat less indicative of what might happen on election day. However, two other polls taken in July that surveyed likely voters — by the Texas Lyceum and Gravis Marketing — also found Cruz’s lead in single digits.

Federal Election Commission reports also show that O’Rourke has been competitive with Cruz in fundraising. As of the end of June, he had raised $23.6 million to $23.4 million for Cruz and had $14 million in cash on hand, compared to $9.3 million for the incumbent.

The last time Cruz ran, in 2012, he outraised and outspent his Democratic opponent by a 2-to-1 margin, on his way to a 16-point victory.

O’Rouke, 45, has represented metro El Paso in the House since 2013, after serving on the El Paso City Council. Although he is Irish and his given first name is Robert, he was nicknamed “Beto” — a Spanish nickname for Robert — from childhood.

Cruz, 47, was elected to the Senate in 2012 on his first try for political office. In 2016, he made an unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination, carrying 12 primaries and caucuses and finishing second in the delegate count behind Trump.

The Texas race is one of six Southern states with open seats in 2018; the others are Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi, where both seats are on the ballot.

Four of those races are shaping up to be competitive — Florida and West Virginia, which are currently held by Democrats, and Texas and Tennessee, held by Republicans.

Poll: Republican incumbent Rick Scott trails Charlie Crist in Florida governor’s race

Crist, the Sunshine State’s former governor, also calls for ending U.S. embargo against Cuba

MIAMI (CFP) — Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist holds a small lead over Republican Governor Rick Scott in the Florida governor’s race, according to two recent polls.

Democratic challenger Charlie Crist

Democratic challenger Charlie Crist

And in a turnabout likely to draw the ire of the state’s influential Cuban-American community, Crist now says he thinks the U.S. embargo against Cuba, in place since 1962, ought to be lifted.

“The embargo has done nothing in more than 50 years to change the regime in Cuba,” Crist said in a statement, adding that “if we want to bring democracy to Cuba, we need to encourage American values and investment there.”

Just four years ago, when Crist was making a unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate, he supported the embargo. Scott immediately pounced on Crist’s change of heart, which he first announced in a response to a question from television satirist Bill Maher.

Florida Governor Rick Scott

Florida Governor Rick Scott

“Our nation is great because we were built on a foundation of freedom and democracy,” Scott said. ” That is not true in Cuba, and we should not pretend it is. The importance of maintaining the embargo is that it stands for the Cuban people’s right to be free.”

In his interview with Maher, Crist agreed with Maher that more Florida politicians need to stand up to the Cuban-American community, a remark Scott called “insulting.”

A February 5 poll by the University of Florida found Crist leading Scott 47 percent to 40 percent in a head-to-head matchup. A poll from Quinniapiac University released January 30 gave Crist a slightly larger lead, 46 percent to 38 percent.

Scott, 61, a multimillionaire health care entrepreneuer, narrowly won the governorship four years ago. Crist, 57, served as governor as a Republican from 2007 to 2011. He gave up the office to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent, losing to Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. Crist later became a Democrat.

Crist faces a primary challenge from Nan Rich, a former Democratic state senator, who, alluding to Crist’s often changing political affiliations, styles herself as the “one true Democrat” in the race.

There has also been speculation that Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson might run against Crist for governor. However, Nelson has distanced himself from that speculation, saying he has no plans to leave the Senate.

The University of Florida poll found that Nelson also leads Scott in a hypothetical matchup, while both the UF poll and Quinniapiac polls found that Scott leads Rich when they are compared head-to-head.

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