Gov. Greg Abbott holds a 7-percentage-point lead over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, according to a new poll by the University of Houston and Texas Southern University. The margin is similar to a different poll from last month.
Of the 1,312 likely voters surveyed Aug. 11-29, 49% said they would vote for Abbott compared with 42% who said they would vote for O’Rourke, while 7% of those surveyed were undecided.
“Texas seems to be poised to continue the conservative, partisan incumbent class, leaving a significant portion of the electorate locked out of power,” said Michael Adams, who was involved with the research and is director executive of the master of public administration program at Texas Southern.
O’Rourke has tried campaigning to wavering Republicans, such as with a 30-second ad featuring someone who is identified as a “life-long Republican” who plans to vote for O’Rourke.
However, this strategy hasn’t seemed to work, Adams said, as 93% of Texas Republicans intend to vote for Abbott and only 2% said they’d vote for O’Rourke, according to the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. Independent voters are nearly evenly split, but slightly favor Abbott with 47% intending to vote for him.
O’Rourke has campaigned on abortion access, but the poll found women in Texas are deadlocked in support of both candidates at 45%.
“We’re seeing kind of the same trends, partisanship at the top of tickets, pretty well hardened and that’s probably because of who Beto is,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor. “He’s a known political figure nationwide, (which) helps him in some ways by being able to raise more money from out of state, but it also hurts him because he’s seen as a partisan figure in a race where Republicans have got an edge in terms of partisanship.”
But Rottinghaus said Abbott’s campaign has some reason for concern since his lead isn’t larger and the campaign season has yet to peak.
“If O’Rourke can turn out Democrats in a midterm who usually don’t turn out, then he’s going to be in better shape,” Rottinghaus said.
“If O’Rourke can harness the energy of Democrats, then there’s a chance he can make up some ground in key areas of the state.”
In the lieutenant governor race, Republican incumbent Dan Patrick holds a 6-point lead over Democrat Mike Collier.
In the attorney general race, Republican incumbent Ken Paxton, who has been under federal investigation, holds just a 3-point lead over Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza.
Abbott and O’Rourke will go head-to-head in a debate on Sept. 30.
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