Quinnipiac poll: Ted Cruz "ahead by inches" in U.S. Senate race against Beto O'Rourke

A new poll released Monday shows a tight contest in the race for U.S. Senate in Texas.

The Quinnipiac University Poll shows incumbent Ted Cruz with a narrow five-point lead over challenger Beto O’Rourke, 51 - 46. That’s a closer margin than a Quinnipiac poll three weeks ago that had Cruz up nine points.

Independent voters are making it a close race. While independents in Texas typically support the Republican candidate, they are breaking for O’Rourke this time. He leads among independents 56 – 40.

“O'Rourke is within striking distance, but time is running out in a race that Democrats have hoped would deliver an upset victory that would be key to a Senate takeover," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Cruz leads among men, 59 - 39, while O’Rourke leads with women, 52 – 45. White voters support Cruz 67 – 30, while O’Rourke leads with black voters 86 - 12 and Hispanic voters 60 – 36.

Cruz has faced a tougher than expected race from O’Rourke, with the Democrat significantly outraising him when it comes to campaign cash. But polls in the past week have shown Cruz with a lead in the mid-single digits over O’Rourke.

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson says latest polling shows how difficult a challenge the race has always been for O'Rourke.

“I think the biggest thing that stands out in this newest poll is that the partisans, both Democrat and Republican, are locked in and independents are leaning relatively heavy toward O’Rourke. But he's still down five,” Jillson said.

As both candidates continue to pound the pavement on the campaign trail, there's been no shortage of polls with all sort of predictions.

Jillson notes the groups surveyed don't always reflect who shows up to the polls. And in these final days until Election Day, that might be what O'Rourke is betting on.

“The O’Rourke campaign is depending on the fact they might guessing wrong. They might not be surveying enough young people, enough first-time voters, enough Hispanics,” Jillson said. “That's the hope. That's the prayer of the O’Rourke campaign and no one will know until Election Day.”

Both candidates are crisscrossing the state in the final days of the campaign. Cruz and O’Rourke have spent time in North Texas in the past few days, working to turn out their voters. Early voting concludes on Friday and Election Day is next Tuesday.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,078 voters from Oct. 22 – 28, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5.