DALLAS — Primary election day in Texas is one week from Tuesday, on May 29.
And the Republican race for U.S. Senate could be headed to a runoff.
A University of Texas-Texas Tribune poll shows Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst just nine points ahead of Ted Cruz, 40 percent to 31 percent.
Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert has 17 percent and and Craig James limps in at 4 percent.
The poll has a margin of error of +/- 5.92 percent.
The winner of the primary needs more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff with the second-place finisher.
Both Dewhurst and Cruz campaigned in North Texas Monday, with Dewhurst looking for support to win without a runoff and Cruz trying to stop him.
Cruz brought his tea party-themed campaign to a small fundraiser in Frisco, vowing to take on the Republican establishment. He was excited that another independent poll showed him poised to make a runoff with the lieutenant governor.
"[Dewhurst] knows that in a runoff he's in real trouble, because in a runoff, the voters that show up are the motivated, active grassroots supporters," Cruz said.
But with early voting ending Friday and the primary next Tuesday, Dewhurst isn't giving up. He's still seeking enough support to win outright.
Dewhurst stopped by a North Dallas early voting location Monday, where he dismissed the latest poll. But he also did not predict he will win the primary without a runoff.
"Again, whether we're able to win this race with 50 percent plus really is going to depend upon how many people turn out," he said.
The Dewhurst campaign rolled out a new TV ad Monday, touting Gov. Rick Perry's endorsement.
In response, Cruz told WFAA he remains a "big fan" of Perry, whom he supported when Perry ran for president. "It is not surprising that the entire political establishment in Texas has circled the wagons around Dewhurst," Cruz said.
Perry's support can help — just as Sarah Palin's recorded calls to Texas GOP voters for Cruz aided him.
But the UT/Texas Tribune poll found it might not be enough for Dewhurst to find a majority with former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert on one side and Cruz on the other.
"The real problem here is that he's got Leppert to the left peeling off some of the moderates, and Cruz to the right peeling off a lot of conservatives, so there's a real fight," said Dr. Jim Henson at UT's Texas Politics Project.
With a light turnout expected on primary day — the day after the long Memorial Day weekend — the real fight for voters is the rest of this week.