Poll: Ted Cruz leads Beto O'Rourke by three points in tight U.S. Senate race

A new poll released Thursday shows the U.S. Senate race in Texas continuing to tighten in the final days of the campaign.

Sen. Ted Cruz leads Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke by just 3 points in the new Emerson College poll of likely voters, 50 – 47. The survey found 2 percent of voters still undecided. With a margin of error of +/- 3.7, the race is essentially in a statistical tie.

Notably, Cruz had a five-point lead over O’Rourke in an Emerson poll conducted in early October.

The Emerson poll is one of several in the last week showing a narrowing lead for Cruz. A Texas Tribune poll released last Friday showed Cruz up by 6, a Quinnipiac Poll released Monday had Cruz up 5 and a UT-Tyler poll had Cruz up by 3.6 points.

The independent election handicappers at the Cook Political Report have classified the Texas race a toss-up.

Cruz has faced a tougher than expected race from O’Rourke, with the Democrat significantly outraising him when it comes to campaign cash. Both candidates are crisscrossing the state in the final days of the campaign, with O’Rourke hitting up bigger cities in recent days and Cruz traveling to smaller towns.

The latest polls show immigration is a major issue for likely Cruz voters. Republicans have done their best to keep the issue front and center.

President Donald Trump has focused attention in the last few weeks on the migrant caravan and floated the idea of executive orders to end birthright citizenship and limit asylum.

Meanwhile, polls find O’Rourke's likely voters say issues like guns, education and healthcare are most important. The latter two are a major part of O'Rourke's campaigning.

TCU Associate Professor of Political Science Vanessa Bouche says this has been a race like few others.

“To think that Texas would possibly be sending a Democrat to the Senate was out of the realm of my mind many months ago,” she said.

But while the polls might give a great indication of what people care about, Bouche says we still have to be cautious about how accurate the polls will be in predicting who wins.

“I think we're living in this era where kind of like anything could go,” she said. ‘And I think we're starting to see things that nobody would have predicted.”

Early voting concludes on Friday and Election Day is next Tuesday.

The Emerson poll surveyed 781 likely voters from Oct. 28 – 30.