Texas GOP Poll: 'Tea Party' challenger beats Cornyn 46% to 33%

Sen. John Cornyn III (R.-Texas)

A generic “Tea Party” candidate beats Sen. John Cornyn III  (R.-Texas) in a Oct. 26 Human Events/Gravis poll of Republican voters in Texas 46 percent to 33 percent for the GOP’s number two senator.


The poll clearly shows Cornyn is trouble, especially when you see that in the poll Sen. R. Edward Cruz (R.-Texas) has a job approval rating of 73 percent among Republicans and Cornyn 46 percent, said the pollster Doug Kaplan, who founded Gravis Marketing in 2010 and whose polls were included in the Real Clear Politics basket of polls during the 2012 campaign.

The Republican primary is March 4. The day for candidates to file for the primary is Nov. 9 with a Dec. 9 filing deadline.

In head-to-head questions the only named individual who beat Cornyn was former Republican congressman Ronald D. Paul, who beat Cornyn 44 percent to 34 percent, but that could be a function of name recognition, Kaplan said.

“From the results of this poll, a lesser-known candidate could close the gap by embracing the Tea Party label,” he said.

The other named head-to-head results against Cornyn were: Rep. Stephen E. Stockman (R-Texas) 15 percent v. Cornyn,, Rep. Louis B. Gohmert Jr., (R.-Texas) 20 percent v. Cornyn 45 percent and Rafael Cruz, father of the Texas senator: 33 percent v. Cornyn 39 percent

Kaplan said another sign that Cornyn is vulnerable is the large numbers of respondents, who said they were undecided, those typically swing against an incumbent.

When all four men were polled against each other, Rafael Cruz came out on top with 41 percent. The others followed with Cornyn 25 percent, Paul 18 percent and Stockman with 3 percent and 13 percent unsure.

Sen. R. Edward Cruz (R.-Texas) with his father Rafael Cruz
Sen. R. Edward Cruz (R.-Texas) with his father Rafael Cruz

Erick W. Erickson, who runs the conservative commentary and news site RedState.com, said voters are clued into the difference between how Cornyn’s talks in Texas and walks in Washington.

“The Gravis polling shows more and more that Senators like John Cornyn cannot tell constituents at home he supports defunding Obamacare and then work in Washington to undermine the defunding fight,” Erickson said.

“Voters are paying attention,” the Fox News commentator said.

Matt Kibbe, the president of Freedom Works, the national Tea Party support organization, said he is not surprised that of the two senators, Texas Republicans have a higher opinion of Cruz than Cornyn.

Senator Cruz made very clear promises to Texans during his senatorial campaign, and he is keeping them,” he said.

“The numbers clearly show that grassroots activists are standing with Cruz every step of the way because he is a bold leader who is strong enough to not get sucked into the deal-making quicksand in Washington,” he said. “Texans mean what they say, and say what they mean, and they deserve representation in Washington that will do the same.”

Sal Russo, chief strategist and co-founder of the Tea Party Express, said he is not surprised that Texas voters would be open to a primary challenge to Cornyn.


“What the establishment Republicans forget is the frustration felt by the Tea Party about what happens in Washington,” he said. “The go-along to get-along is not the attitude what Americans want to see.”

Russo said the gulf between the conservatives and the GOP leadership is not the same or as large as it was in 1964 or even 1980. After Ronald W. Reagan was elected, many Republicans urged Reagan to give up his promises to cut spending and taxes.

“Now the battles are about tactics,” said Russo, who started working for Ronald W. Reagan as a 19-year-old. Most Republicans agree on conservative principles, but disagree the best way to achieve them.

The problem is that if a Republican campaigns as a conservative and then becomes something else in Washington, the voters are going to be angry, he said.

Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said Texans should be proud of elected officials like Senator Cruz.

Sen. Ted Cruz has bravely led the fight against gross government overreach by working tirelessly to defeat Obamacare, which is showing clearer indications every day that it will be an incredible burden on the country,” she said.

“We need more elected officials like Sen. Cruz who have taken a ‘damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead’ approach and are more concerned about their constituents and the path of this country,” she said.


The poll showed that only 20 percent of Texas Republicans believe Cornyn understands the problems of regular Texans.

Martin said the values of Texans are aligned with the goals of the Tea Party.

“Texans pride themselves on their self- sufficiency and as a result, it isn’t a surprise that the Tea Party’s core values of restoring a constitutionally limited, fiscally responsible government resonate strongly with the majority of the Republican voters in the state,” she said.

“This poll has clear indications—Texans want representatives who care more about what is right for the country and Texas than making deals in Washington,” Martin said.

Other results of the poll give insight into how Texas Republicans expect their members of Congress to vote with 79 percent supporting the campaign to defund Obamacare, 81 percent opposing amnesty for illegal aliens and only 20 percent supporting federally-supported farm income.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member