© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Could Trump Backlash Hurt Cruz With Texas Voters?

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and President Trump share a stormy political relationship but they might have to put that aside in time for the midterm elections. Political experts say Cruz will also need to walk a fine line in terms of how much help he actually gets from the president.

During the 2016 primary election, Trump described Cruz, who was also vying for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination as, “Lying Ted.”

During that same election, Trump also criticized the appearance of Cruz’s wife and made comments about Cruz’s father.

Two years later, Cruz will likely have to reach out to the president to campaign on his behalf ahead of the 2018 midterms.

Recent polls by the Texas Lyceum Group and Quinnipiac University show Cruz ahead of his Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke by only single digits.

Both polls also show Trump’s support still running high among likely Republican voters at 84 percent, while 94 percent of Texas Democrats disapprove of the job he is doing.

Cruz’s campaign manager Jeff Roe wrote, “We have not placed a formal request for a rally or event but Senator Cruz and President Trump speak often about the political landscape in Texas and how the President can be helpful."

Mark Jones, professor of political science at Rice University, said Cruz needs Trump's help but “he is a little reticent to have President Trump become too involved in his campaign because that gives Democrats something to mobilize their voters around.”

On top of that, if Cruz aligns too closely with Trump, Jones said he might lose support from an important group of Republicans: the moderates, who Jones said might cross over to Beto O’Rourke as a way to demonstrate their rejection of both Cruz and Trump.

Jones said while the race between Cruz and O’Rourke is close,  Cruz is still favored to win, with or without the president’s help.

When Cruz spoke with the Houston Chronicle at a campaign event Monday in Seguin, he said Republicans outnumber Democrats in Texas but if not enough Republicans get fired up and vote, he could be in big trouble in November.

Ryan Poppe can be reached at rpoppe@tpr.org or on Twitter @RyanPoppe1