A newly released poll by Texas Lyceum [PDF] offers some encouraging news for both Barack Obama and Rick Noriega as they face an uphill battle to win their respective races. The poll of likely voters shows John McCain leading Barack Obama by only 5 points, 43%-38%, with 17% of Texas voters saying they are undecided about who will get their vote. Ralph Nader and Bob Barr were included in the poll, but only got 1% each - and Nader will probably not be on the ballot in Texas. With McCain polling well under 50% and a large number of undecideds, Obama has a lot of room for growth and a legitimate chance at actually winning Texas, if the results of this poll are to be taken seriously.
The same poll shows Rick Noriega faring even better, showing John Cornyn with a lead of only 2 points, 38%-36%, and 24% of respondents identifying themselves as undecided. Noriega has a problem with name recognition and a significant cash disadvantage, but his fundraising appears to be picking up steam lately and he's bound to get a boost from the Obama campaign investing resources in Texas for the general election. John Cornyn polling at only 38% is a significant sign of weakness for an incumbent, so there's a lot of good news to be taken from this poll for Rick Noriega.
But can this poll be trusted? The party splits for the poll are 44% Democratic to 32% Republican, indicating that Democrats were oversampled, unless there's been some huge, dramatic shift in party affiliation since the last election. And 32% of the respondents were Hispanic, indicating that they might also have been oversampled - Hispanics are about 35% of the state population, but have historically tended to lag significantly behind whites and blacks in voter participation. The poll results are encouraging, but should be taken with a huge grain of salt.