Cruz-ing to Victory?

Texas Republicans vote Tuesday, July 31 in a number of runoff elections. The highest profile of the bunch is the race to replace the retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. A new poll shows that former state solicitor general Ted Cruz is opening up a significant lead on Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst:

PPP's final poll of the Republican Senate runoff in Texas finds Ted Cruz opening up a 52-42 lead, an increase from our survey two weeks ago that found him ahead 49-44.

Cruz's victory is driven by 4 things: the Tea Party, the enthusiasm of his supporters, a generational divide within the Texas Republican ranks, and the lack of regard the party base currently holds for Rick Perry.

Cruz is ahead by a whooping 75-22 margin with Tea Party  voters, more than making up for a 56-39 deficit to Dewhurst with voters who don't consider themselves members of that movement. There has been too much of a tendency to ascribe any Republican primary upset over the last few years to Tea Party voters, but this is one case where it's well justified.

Cruz has a 63-33 advantage with voters who describe themselves as 'very excited' about voting in Tuesday's runoff election. He also has a 49-45 advantage with those describing themselves as 'somewhat excited.' The only reason this race is even remotely competitive is Dewhurst's 59-31 lead with voter who say they're 'not that excited' about voting. It's an open question whether those folks will really show up and if they don't it's possible Cruz could end up winning by closer t0 20 points.

The enthusiasm findings track well with anecdotal evidence from Cruz rallies, culminating with a fairly large rally in The Woodlands on Friday that saw Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint come out to support Cruz. Their support helps blunt the late charge from the Dewhurst campaign, that Cruz is a "Washington insider." That particular accusation has never generated any traction.

So things look good for a Cruz victory, but this post comes with a caveat: The poll cited above is from Public Policy Polling. They lean left and once found that Barack Obama led Rick Perry in Texas. So, they may not have the strongest grasp on how to poll in Texas. We'll all find out tomorrow if PPP has figured the Lone Star State out yet.

Update: An internal Dewhurst poll shows the lt. gov. leading by five.