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Cruz surges in Texas

For the past few weeks it’s been looking like Ted Cruz has the edge over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Texas Republican Senate primary ranoff. This would be an upset because Dewhurst ran well ahead of Cruz in the initial primary. However, as some of our most astute readers told me just after the primary, Cruz’s advantage in voter enthusiasm would make him competitive, at a minimum, in the runoff.

Now, only two days before the runoff, PPP is out with a poll showing Cruz in the lead by 10 points, up from 5 points in mid-July. Tea Party voters supporters are driving this result. Cruz is ahead among this group a 75-22 margin. Voters who don’t consider themselves members of that movement support Dewhurst by 56-39.

Sarah Palin’s active support for Cruz is also helping, and certainly has looks more valuable than Gov. Rick Perry’s support of Dewhurst. Only 16 percent of the respondents were more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Rick Perry, compared to 31 percent who said the same thing about Palin’s endorsement.

But it’s the enthusiasm gap — the advantage our readers pointed out to me months ago — that is most striking. Among those voters who are “very excited” about the race, Cruz leads by 30 percentage points. He leads by 4 points among those who are “somewhat excited.” Thus, PPP notes, “the only reason this race is even remotely competitive is Dewhurst’s 59-31 lead with voter who say they’re ‘not that excited’ about voting.” But who knows whether these voters will show up. If they don’t, says PPP, “it’s possible Cruz could end up winning by closer to 20 points.”

That sounds good to me.

Via William Jacobson, who notes that the Dewhurst campaign has released an internal poll showing its man up by 5 points.

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