When Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst headed to an Austin Chick-fil-a Monday to order a chicken sandwich, he wasn’t trying to make a statement regarding the restaurant’s controversial views opposing same-sex marriage. He was making sure his base planned to hit the polls Tuesday for the runoff election.
“It’s very important that you vote,” Dewhurst said.
It’s especially important given the latest independent poll out which shows his opponent, former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, with a 10-point lead.
“It's just amazing to see the rise Cruz has made over the last year and a half,” Tom Jensen with Public Policy Polling said. “To go from starting out at three percent in the polls, to possibly even winning this runoff election by double-digits."
According to the Public Policy Polling survey, 75 percent of Tea Party supporters back Cruz, but Dewhurst will tell you don't count him out just yet.
“I’m proud of our position in the polls,” Dewhurst said. “Our polls have us winning. They’ve had us winning all along.”
A poll commissioned by the Dewhurst campaign shows him narrowly beating Cruz, 48 to 43 percent.
Matt Mackowiak is a Republican strategist and Cruz supporter. He says if Cruz pulls out the win, it'll be indicative of a clear shift in the Texas Republican Party.
“You’re always a little bit cautious or a little bit questioning of internal polls. There’s a reason they’re internal,” he said. “That’s what sort of makes this remarkable--you have a next generation Hispanic politician like Ted Cruz who creates a lot of excitement.”
Dewhurst was the top vote-getter in the May 29 primary, but couldn't break the 50 point threshold needed to avoid a runoff. Mackowiak says Texas’ lieutenant governor could still pull off a win.
"Generally if someone’s up by 10 in our poll the weekend before the election, I would tell you it’s over,” Mackowiak said. “I’m not quite willing to go there for this race just because of the unpredictability. Certainly think Cruz is a strong favorite, but wouldn’t be totally shocked if Dewhurst pulls it out.”
Cruz campaigned with some big names over the weekend, including Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint and Rick Santorum.
Dewhurst has the backing of many top Texas officials. Gov. Perry will campaign with him all day Monday, State Comptroller Susan Combs formally endorsed Dewhurst last week and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced his support for the lieutenant governor Sunday.