The Cook Political Report, a prominent outlet dedicated to analyzing and predicting elections, has shifted the contest between incumbent Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and his Democratic challenger, Representative Beto O’Rourke, from “lean Republican” to “toss up.”
While the Friday rating change was not accompanied by any justification, it comes just one day after the left-leaning pollster Public Policy Polling found Cruz was leading by just three percentage points in the deeply red state.
— CookPoliticalReport (@CookPolitical) September 21, 2018
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday found O’Rourke was leading by two points.
“There’s a possibility it could happen. I’m not saying probable. But it’s possible,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, told Reuters in response to the recent polling.
The Real Clear Politics polling average indicates that Cruz still holds a 4.5-point lead over O’Rourke, a deeply progressive El Paso congressman initially considered a long shot to upset the one-term incumbent.
After building national name recognition through a slew of print profiles and cable-news appearances, O’Rourke has out-raised his more experienced opponent and emerged as the most successful Democratic fundraiser this election cycle. He raised $23.6 million from January 2017 to July 31 of this year, while Cruz raised $15.6 million over the same period, according to data compiled by the Texas Tribune.
The two candidates are scheduled to debate for the first time Friday evening.