Poll: Colin Allred leads Roland Gutierrez in Democratic primary, but both trail Republican Ted Cruz

The University of Houston Hobby School poll shows likely Democratic primary voters favor Congressman Allred over State Senator Gutierrez by 40% to 12%, but it predicts Senator Cruz would defeat either of them in hypothetical fall matchups.

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FILE – An early morning pedestrian is silhouetted against sunrise as he walks through the American flags on the National Mall with the U..S Capitol Building in the background in Washington Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

A statewide poll shows Dallas Congressman Colin Allred with a solid lead over his rivals in the Texas Democratic Senate primary. But the poll shows all Democratic contenders lagging Republican incumbent Senator Ted Cruz.

The poll, conducted by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs, found 40% of likely Democratic primary voters intend to support Allred, compared to 12% for State Senator Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio. None of the other Democratic contenders polled higher than 4%.

"Colin Allred is a very strong favorite to win the Democratic nomination, and he has a good chance of doing so on March 5 and avoiding a costly May runoff," said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones, who coauthored the report.

"But whether it's Allred or Gutierrez in the general election against Ted Cruz, Cruz remains a very strong favorite."

The poll predicted Allred would lose a hypothetical matchup against Cruz by 9 points, while Gutierrez would lose by 10 points.

"Looking at these numbers, we're not back in 2018, where Beto O'Rourke came very close to beating Ted Cruz," Jones said. "While Cruz and his campaign were fooled back in 2018 and reacted very late...to Beto O'Rourke and were unable to blunt his momentum, I think we have a once-bitten, twice-shy scenario now, where the Cruz campaign will be closely monitoring both Allred and Gutierrez and will have the money, resources, and plan to react if they see them start to close the gap between themselves and the Republican senator.

One of the main reasons Jones thinks Cruz is likely to do better this time is the race at the top of the ticket this November. In 2018, O'Rourke benefited – albeit not enough to win – from the unpopularity of then-President Donald Trump. This time, there's a Democrat in the White House.

"Joe Biden is exceptionally unpopular among likely Texas voters," Jones said, citing an earlier poll. "More than three out of five have a negative opinion of the president. The Biden administration is also pursuing several high-profile policies, particularly in the area of immigration and border security, that are opposed by the majority of Texas voters."

Allred has staked out a position on the border critical of President Biden, but Jones says it's not likely to help him much against Cruz.

"While Allred can try to differentiate himself somewhat from Biden," Jones said, "it's very difficult to do, particularly on as complex an issue as immigration, where a majority of the population is tending to view it in a very binary way – the Republican way of doing things, represented by (Governor) Greg Abbott and Donald Trump, and the Democratic way, represented by Joe Biden."