Gov. Greg Abbott leads Beto O’Rourke by 5 percentage points in new poll

Gov. Greg Abbott, left, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto ORourke. (The Texas Tribune, The Texas Tribune)

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.

Gov. Greg Abbott leads his Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke by 5 percentage points, according to a new poll from the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

Recommended Videos

The survey found that Abbott received 45% of support among registered voters, while 40% supported O’Rourke and 4% supported third-party candidates. Three percent of respondents named “Someone else” as their choice, and 8% said they have not thought about the race enough to have an opinion.

The result is almost identical to the margin from when the pollsters last surveyed the race in June, finding Abbott ahead of O’Rourke 45% to 39%.

The latest survey also gave Republican incumbents single-digit leads in two other statewide races. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick led Democrat Mike Collier by 7 points, and Attorney General Ken Paxton registered a 5-point advantage over Democrat Rochelle Garza. More voters remain undecided in those contests than in the gubernatorial election — 20% in the lieutenant governor’s race and 21% in the attorney general one.

Abbott is seeking a third term against O’Rourke, the former El Paso congressman who had a near-miss loss to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. Forty-six percent of respondents approve of the job Abbott is doing while 44% disapprove, according to the poll. It marks an improvement over the June poll, when Abbott’s approval rating was upside down, with 43% approving and 46% disapproving.

When it comes to issues, the poll showed voters continue to prioritize the border. “Immigration/border security” led the list of issues that voters said were most most important to their vote in the election, with 26% choosing it. It was followed by the state economy (13%), abortion (12%) and gun violence (11%).

Voters said they trusted Abbott more on the border and economy and O’Rourke more on abortion. They were equally divided on who had the advantage on gun violence.

O’Rourke has campaigned heavily against Abbott on abortion, highlighting that Abbott signed the “trigger law” that has banned almost all abortions in Texas following the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Voters registered clear disapproval with the post-Roe landscape in Texas, with 50% saying they support “expand[ing] legal access to abortion services” in the state now versus 31% who disapproved of that idea. And by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, voters said the state should not dedicate more resources to enforcing its abortion ban.

O’Rourke has also been highly critical of Abbott’s refusal to support any new gun restrictions following the Uvalde school shooting. The poll found voters continue to want stricter gun laws, with 54% saying they should be more strict and 23% saying they should be left as is.

Abbott’s biggest advantage remains the border. By a 12-point margin, voters said they trusted him to do a better job on “immigration/border security” than O’Rourke. And 51% said they support Abbott’s program to bus migrants to other parts of the country that has captured headlines recently. Thirty-five percent opposed the initiative.

President Joe Biden remains unpopular in Texas, though not as much as he was earlier in the summer. The latest poll found Biden has a net approval rating of negative 12 points in Texas, a figure that was negative 20 in June.

The poll of 1,200 registered voters was conducted online from Aug. 28 to Sept. 6. The margin of error was +/- 2.83 points.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

The full program is now LIVE for the 2022 Texas Tribune Festival, happening Sept. 22-24 in Austin. Explore the schedule of 100+ mind-expanding conversations coming to TribFest, including the inside track on the 2022 elections and the 2023 legislative session, the state of public and higher ed at this stage in the pandemic, why Texas suburbs are booming, why broadband access matters, the legacy of slavery, what really happened in Uvalde and so much more. See the program.

Recommended Videos