Clinton and Cruz Could Take Texas, University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll Finds

AUSTIN, Texas — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lead their respective competitors in Texas as early voting continues in the run-up to the March 1 Super Tuesday nominating contests, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Likely Democratic voters favored Clinton 54 to 44 percent over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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In the race for the Republican nomination, likely voters favored Cruz, who has represented Texas in the U.S. Senate since 2013, over businessman Donald Trump 37 to 29 percent. They were followed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida (15 percent), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has since suspended his campaign (6 percent), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (5 percent), and neurosurgeon Ben Carson (4 percent).

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The Internet-based statewide poll was conducted between Feb. 12 and Feb. 19 by the market research firm YouGov. The sample included 1,200 self-declared registered voters and has a margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Polling for likely primary voters included 407 Republicans and 324 Democrats, with margins of error of 3.48 and 5.44 percentage points respectively.

Among all Democratic voters surveyed, Clinton holds a 17-point lead over Sanders, garnering 57 percent support compared with Sanders’ 40 percent — a larger margin than among likely voters.

“Turnout, especially Hispanic turnout, will matter, but it’s Clinton’s race to lose,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and UT Austin government professor. “She’s up double digits and probably more given positive news coverage after her win in Nevada.”

Among all Texas Republicans — not just those voting in the primaries — Cruz’s support has increased by 7 percentage points since the previous UT/Texas Tribune poll in October, when he was tied with Trump as the favored candidate among Texas Republicans. Cruz, who has led every trial ballot in the poll since 2013, leads with 34 percent, followed by Trump at 31 percent, Rubio at 14 percent and Bush at 7 percent support in Texas among all Republicans.

“Ted Cruz continues to be one of the most popular elected officials in the eyes of Texas Republicans, so he continues to enjoy a natural advantage in the state,” said James Henson, director of UT Austin’s Texas Politics Project and co-director of the UT/Texas Tribune Poll. “But the combination of celebrity and a successful campaign seems to be working for Donald Trump in Texas in much the same way it seems to be working in the rest of the country.”

Presidential match-up results for all Texas partisans included 526 Republicans and 460 Democrats, with margins of error of 4.27 and 4.57 percent respectively.

Shaw said the poll results indicate the top three candidates should all consider spending substantial time in Texas — which allocates the third largest share of presidential delegates in the nominating contest — between now and the presidential primary elections on March 1.

“It seems unlikely that anyone will get to 50 percent, which means everyone over 20 percent has a chance to win delegates statewide. Rubio has a particular reason to campaign here, since he is so close to the 20 percent threshold that would yield a significant delegate haul,” Shaw said.

This is the latest in a series of polls conducted by UT Austin’s Texas Politics Project and The Texas Tribune. Comprehensive poll results, information about methodology and the survey data set will be released initially by The Texas Tribune during the next four business days. Graphics, a summary, crosstabs and a data file will be publicly available for research and teaching at the Texas Politics Project website next week.