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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> Senate -- Texas

Competition In Texas?

Despite a huge name-recognition advantage and a hefty bank account, is there a possibility that Senator John Cornyn could be in jeopardy come November? A new poll shows Cornyn could face a difficult fight for re-election, though he maintains a decent lead. If Cornyn finds himself in trouble, he won't be the only one, as the national landscape would need to boost Democrats enough to give them reasonable shots at other second- and third-tier targets.

The poll, conducted by Research 2000 for DailyKos, surveyed 600 likely voters from 5/5-7 for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Cornyn and his Democratic opponent, State Rep. Rick Noriega.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Cornyn 48 / 11 / 81 / 45 / 53 / 43
Noriega 44 / 82 / 13 / 45 / 40 / 48

Cornyn is known by a huge majority of Texas voters. 50% say they view him favorably, while 41% say they see him in an unfavorable light. By contrast, just 42% have a favorable view of Noriega, while 31% view him unfavorably.

To become better known, or to reduce Cornyn's margin, Noriega will have to be competitive with Cornyn financially. That could be nearly impossible; Cornyn has raised $9.1 million so far and still has almost $8.7 million in the bank, compared with just $329,000 on hand for Noriega. The Democrat had raised a total of just under $1.5 million before the March 31 FEC deadline.

Noriega still has a big hill to climb come November, but the Research 2000 poll shows at least the possibility that Democrats could seriously expand the playing field this year.

Is Cornyn In Trouble?

After filing for the Senate last week, Texas Democrat Rick Noriega, a state representative, commissioned a Lake Research poll of 500 likely Texas voters, as the Houston Chronicle reports. The results weren't spectacular for Noriega, but certainly offered a glimmer of a chance against Cornyn, running for his first reelection to the Senate since winning the open seat in 2002 with 55% against a strong candidate -- former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.

Of those polled, 41% disapproved of the job Cornyn has done in the Senate, while 31% said they would definitely vote for him next November and 53% said they would consider someone else. If nothing else, this encouraging poll should help Noriega's fundraising abilities by dispelling potential donors' worries that Cornyn is unbeatable.

In Cornyn's favor is the fact that the two top Republicans in the state were just reelected statewide in 2006, a favorable year for Democrats around the country. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison won reelection in 2006 with 62% of the vote, a strong win for an incumbent, though it was against an underfunded candidate who lacked enough money to compete statewide. Republican Gov. Rick Perry was also reelected in 2006, though he won just 39% of the vote in a four-candidate contest. Democrat Chris Bell took 30%, while two independent candidates combined to take 30% as well.

Though he has less than a month left before his first FEC filing deadline, his fundraising total on the 1st of January will be the first sign of how strong a candidate he will be. As of today, his only competition for the Democratic nomination is high school teacher Ray McMurrey, of Corpus Christi.

-- Kyle Trygstad

Netroots Take On Cornyn

The liberal netroots, headed by DailyKos, has picked an early target for their fire: Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn. The conservative Senator is one of Capitol Hill's biggest Bush boosters, and Kossacks, as they're called, want him gone. Kos commissioned a poll from Research 2000, a respected firm on the Maryland side of the Beltway, that they hope shows State Rep. Rick Noriega has a legitimate shot at beating the incumbent.

The poll, conducted 9/24-26, surveyed 600 voters for a margin of error of +/- 4%.

General Election Matchup
(All / Men / Wom / Dem / GOP / Ind)
Cornyn 51 / 53 / 49 / 17 / 81 / 46
Noriega 35 / 34 / 36 / 60 / 16 / 35

Vote To Re-Elect Cornyn?
Re-elect 40
Consider replacing 15
Replace 35

Fav/Unfav
Cornyn 46 / 44

Cornyn Job Approval
Approve 45
Disapprove 44

Cornyn finds himself above the magic 50% number, meaning Noriega will have to work to take votes away from him. And while the race will tighten, Texas is a massive state that requires tens of millions to even be taken seriously. Whether Noriega can even come close to competing financially is a major question that will determine how tight the race becomes.

Few will deny that Cornyn is a major favorite right now. Noriega even faces a primary, from wealthy attorney Mikal Watts, who will largely self-fund. Still, Kossacks are proud of their claim that they identified Sens. Jim Webb (D-VA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) well before the mainstream media did, and even as they faced competitive primaries, and, they say, helped them win their seats.