Texpatriate has learned that Gravis Marketing commissioned a telephone poll 729 likely Republican primary voters and found a shocking result: Senator John Cornyn could be heading into a primary runoff against Rep. Steve Stockman, his most high-profile opponent. Senator Cornyn, the Senate Minority Whip (2nd highest ranking Republican), is seeking a third term in the upper chamber and has been challenged by a whole slew of candidates for allegedly being insufficiently conservative.
Specifically, Rep. Stockman has challenged Sen. Cornyn’s recent tepidness towards the idea of “Open Carry,” that is allowing otherwise capable CHL holders to furnish their handguns in plain sight. He has also been criticized for allegedly betraying the values of Texas’ other Senator, Ted Cruz. Particularly in the case of October’s government shutdown and this month’s kerfuffle over the debt ceiling, Sen. Cornyn was one of the Republicans who took the high road and vowed not to let the United States default on its debt. This made the hard-right (read: Rep. Stockman) livid, and fostered an odd primary, to say the least. Most people have assumed that Sen. Cornyn would be safe, but a new poll casts doubts on such predictions.
John Cornyn 43%
Steve Stockman 28%
Three things stick out to me about this poll. First, I cannot find the crosstabs on this poll, so I cannot say with full confidence that the question simply consisted of these three options. Further, the lack of the other candidates in the race –most notably Dwayne Stovall, who has quietly been racking up Tea Party endorsements himself– being on the poll is problematic to no small degree. I would think there are some voters who may be inclined to choose a third option, but would bear it out with Sen. Cornyn if their only other choice is Rep. Stockman.
Second, it should be noted that Gravis Polls are somewhat unreliable. The ever-respectable 538 Blog of Nate Silver rated them with nearly negligible significance, particularly due to a sampling bias that overestimated Republican strength. In November of 2012, Gravis showed Mitt Romney with a majority in Florida, a dead-heat in New Hampshire and a lead in Virginia. Of course, none of those things came even close to being accurate. While Gravis is definitely not bad as the calamities known as the American Research Group, Rasmussen or –lord forbid– Gallup, it is not a reputable and accurate pollster in the same league as PPP, Quinnipiac or CNN. I’m not sure how their historically heavy bias towards Republican voters would translate into a primary election, though.
Third, irrespective of the integrity of the methods, this poll should serve as a wakeup call for the Cornyn campaign. For such a well-known incumbent to fall below the 50% threshold in a primary is not so much an issue about familiarity, it is one of unhappiness. Don’t count out Steve Stockman just yet.
Brains & Eggs has more.