Name recognition is ‘almost everything’ in race to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — How important is name recognition in the race for the Lone Star State’s Senate seat held by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn?

“Name recognition is almost everything as long as it’s not intensely negative,” according to Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

In a poll conducted by the Texas Tribune and the Texas Politics Project, most Texas voters haven’t heard of the candidates challenging Cornyn, the Republican incumbent. Former Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell tops the list at 24%, followed by State Sen. Royce West at 21% and 2018 congressional candidate M.J. Hegar.

“None of them start with a significant advantage,” Henson said.

“That’s rough for the Democrats when you look at the field of potential senate candidates and you see that the top candidate only has 25% name recognition among Democrats,” Henson explained. “It’s hard to feel like this race has caught fire or that anyone is paying attention.”

One advantage for Cornyn is he’s the favorite to win the GOP primary in March. After that, he’ll face the winner of the crowded Democratic primary.

“For John Cornyn, it means he has a lot more time to maneuver and to both get his electoral ducks in a row, if you will, make sure that Republicans are reminded of who he is, to the extent that he can do that in a positive way,” Henson said, “and to lay the ground work for the mobilization effort we know Republicans are going to have to mount given an increase in competition without having to look over his shoulder too much.”

Steffi Lee contributed to this report.

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