The race has been moving in this direction for months now. Nothing Dewhurst has tried has changed the dynamics of the race at all. If anything, the millions Dewhurst has spent on TV have hurt his own campaign. The China ad and the Kids for Cash scandal ad have not achieved anything. Dewhurst’s array of consultants has never been able to lay a glove on Cruz. The most the campaign has been able to achieve is to establish the idea that Cruz is a lawyer who will take on any client who walks in the door, and that is just not enough to undermine Cruz’s positives.
The conventional wisdom concerning the numbers in this race is that the bigger the turnout, the better Dewhurst would do–the idea being that a large turnout would indicate that there is more to the GOP electorate than the tea party. But the fact is that the Dewhurst campaign never identified a constituency. The campaign was a mess from the start: Dewhurst, despite ten years in office, never really established an identity separate from Rick Perry.
And speaking of Perry, he’s the big loser in this race. He went all-in for Dewhurst, even lending him his own campaign organization. In effect, the Perry team portrayed Dewhurst as Perry’s alter ego. That was doomed to fail. In promoting Perry, the Dewhurst campaign diminished their own candidate.
What happens to Perry now? I think his political career may be over. The party he led is split, and the faction whose candidate he opposed appears to be winning the race. Perry’s ego is so huge that he thought he could get Dewhurst elected simply by endorsing him. How can he run for another term as governor (which he clearly wants to do) when he supported an establishment candidate against the tea party’s darling? Dan Patrick is in the same position. Both have lost credibility with their base. Everything is wide open now.
The big winner in this election (other than Cruz himself) is George P. Bush, Jeb’s son, who endorsed Cruz. That tells me two things: (1) he has inherited good political antennae; (2) his statewide political ambitions are on the fast track.
More from PPP:
Cruz’s [anticipated] victory is driven by 4 things: the Tea Party, the enthusiasm of his supporters, a generational divide within the Texas Republican ranks, and the lack of regard the party base currently holds for Rick Perry.
PPP is a Democratic polling firm and has every incentive to denigrate Rick Perry. Nevertheless, I believe PPP is right. There is a general lack of regard for Rick Perry among Republicans, Democrats, the tea party, and independents.
And Politico weighs in:
Runoffs, of course, are notoriously unpredictable and hard to poll. One example: Dewhurst adviser Dave Carney tells [Dave] Catanese, “I know we’re winning the early vote.” But PPP reports Cruz has a wide 55-40 lead among those who say they’ve already voted.
That fits. I don’t think anything I have heard from the Dewhurst campaign has proven to be accurate.