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Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke nearly deadlocked with Ted Cruz, poll shows

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An early poll shows Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke is nearly deadlocked with Sen. Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race. (Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

The political culture of Texas suggests that Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O'Rourke has little chance to upset incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in November, but an early poll indicates Cruz may be in for a fight, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

A Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday shows that while O'Rourke still trails Cruz, he's within the margin of error, making the race too close to call at the moment.

What's the story?

According to the poll, 47 percent of Texans support Cruz, while 44 percent favor O'Rourke. The poll's margin of error is 3.6 percent.

O'Rourke is polling well with Texans age 18 to 34, getting 50 percent of that age group. Cruz, meanwhile, has the support of 53 percent of voters between 50 and 64.

From Quinnipiac Poll assistant director Peter Brown:

"Democrats have had a target on Sen. Ted Cruz's back, and they may be hitting the mark. Once expected to 'cruise' to re-election, the incumbent is in a tight race with Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke."

O'Rourke has garnered significant financial support so far, with his fundraising numbers more than doubling Cruz's during the first quarter of 2018.

Not so fast?

Political science professor Jim Riddlesperger of Texas Christian University told the Star-Telegram that despite the poll, "We don't have any systematic evidence yet that Democrats can be effective in a statewide election here."

"For the first time in a long time, Democrats have a candidate who looks as though he can be competitive," Riddlesperger said. "But you still have to think of O'Rourke as an underdog."

Is there a Texas 'blue wave?'

Democrats in Texas showed increased enthusiasm during the primary elections, more than doubling the party's 2014 turnout and nearly tripling the number of Democratic candidates running for office.

Still, about 500,000 more Republican voters turned out in the primaries, which indicates that turnout will be the key factor in November, something Cruz has acknowledged in March. The election is Nov. 6.

"The extreme left is energized and angry, and it makes it all the more important for conservatives to show up in November," Cruz said. "If conservatives stay home, if we rest on our laurels, we could see Texas turn blue."

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