New polling data released today by independent Public Policy Polling shows Ted Cruz leading Lt. Governor David Dewhurst in the Republican runoff for Senate in Texas. The numbers are the first released by a third-party pollster:

Cruz’s lead expands to a whooping 59-36 margin over Dewhurst among voters who describe themselves as “very excited” about voting in the election. The lower turnout is, the better Cruz’s chances will be. Dewhurst leads 51-43 with ‘somewhat excited’ voters and 50-36 with those who say they are ‘not that excited.’ The big question is whether those less enthused folks will actually bother to turn out or not.

I spoke with Toby Marie Walker, a Tea Party activist from Waco, Texas, about the news.

“It’s a win for the Tea Party, and we needed this win. If Ted Cruz does not win this election, the media will say the Tea Party is dead,” said Walker. “We knew we could do it, now we’re going to do it. It’s within reach now. The voters in this runoff are a lot more savvy, they’re paying attention. People are tired of ugly, tired of attacks. They just want someone to fight for this country.”

Last month at the Republican party convention in Texas, Cruz’s showing there shocked the Texas Republican establishment, according to Walker.

“It was a sea of Ted Cruz. I really don’t think they realized how much energy and passion there was in the grassroots.”

David Dewhurst, whose team includes many former Rick Perry campaign staff, is viewed as the “establishment” candidate in the race, while the Tea Parties have largely coalesced behind Cruz. Governor Perry has recently raised the ire of some Texas Tea Partiers by telling the Tea Party Express to stay out of the race.

Walker: “People want someone to go to DC to fight the establishment and the entrenched–someone to fight, not compromise. Cruz is not someone to back down from a fight, and he knows how to win one.”


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