Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is running 11 percentage points ahead of Democrat Beto O’Rourke in this year’s race for Texas governor, according to a Dallas Morning News-University of Texas at Tyler poll released Sunday.
Buoyed by 2-to-1 support among whites and a growing number of voters who identify as Republican, Abbott leads O’Rourke in a hypothetical matchup, 47%-36%. He even holds a narrow lead over O’Rourke among Hispanics, 40%-39%.
Registered voters are not in a great mood about Texas’ current direction: 50% say things are on the wrong track, compared with 49% who say the state is headed in the right direction.
Still, Abbott dodges much of the blame. His job rating has held at a respectable net approval, 50%-45%. While he’s still underwater with independent voters, with only 37% of them approving of how he’s performing, he draws unfavorable views from just 38% of all voters.
President Joe Biden is viewed unfavorably by 57% of Texans. That may be one factor weighing down O’Rourke, who in November was only six percentage points behind the incumbent. Abbott also has been linking the former El Paso congressman and presidential candidate to Biden, saying in ads that O’Rourke is too liberal and untrustworthy to lead Texas.
The poll, conducted Jan. 18-25, surveyed 1,082 adults who are registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Abbott increased his lead over O’Rourke, which in November stood at just 45%-39%, with modest, “single-digit shifts” among various constituencies, said UT-Tyler political scientist Mark Owens, the poll’s director.
You can see the poll data here and the previous DMN/UT-Tyler poll here. That result was from late November, and it was followed by terrible Quinnipiac result a couple of weeks later. This polling outfit has been eccentric at times, and definitely wasted a lot of energy on ridiculous McConaughey hypotheticals, but it’s a data point and we haven’t had one of those in awhile. They also polled the various primaries, and I would not pay much attention to any of it. Not because of them, but because polling primaries is extremely random, especially given how few people really pay attention to them. Look at the individual race numbers yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.
The results that are of greater interest, as others have noted, are on the issues that voters say are of interest to them:
As a public policy issue for this year, should it be a higher priority to strengthen of the electricity grid or secure the Texas-Mexico border?
Strengthen The Electricity Grid 50% Secure the Texas-Mexico border 41% I am not concerned about either 8%
Should it be a higher priority to enforce regulations to stop the spread of the coronavirus or secure the Texas-Mexico border?
Reduce coronavirus infections 52% Secure the Texas-Mexico border 42% I am not concerned about either 6%
Are you more likely or less likely to support an elected official if they supported a mask mandate during the pandemic or do you not care?
More likely 45% Less likely 22% Absolutely not 10%
Some school districts have mandated masks be worn in school and others have not. Should masks be required in all K-12 classrooms, allow school districts to decide, or no mandates at all?
Required 41% Allow schools to decide 28% No Mandate 25%
Do you support or oppose local governments requiring people to wear masks or face coverings in most public places?
Support 57% Oppose 35%
Do you support or oppose employers requiring vaccination or weekly testing from their employees?
Support 52% Oppose 39%
In terms of the issues, this is not a bad place for Beto to be. We’ve talked a lot about how what people say they want in polls and what they actually vote for often diverges, and this may be another example of that. But the driving factor in the polls we’ve seen before is that the numbers are the result of Dems and Republicans being polar opposites, while independents modestly favor the Dem position. Here, while Republicans all fall more on the Abbott side of things, they are fairly evenly divided on the mask questions. Indies are less passionate about most of these than the Dems, and are just barely in favor of employer vaccine mandates, but they are strongly in favor of the other things, with majority support for most. Again, maybe this doesn’t do much to move votes, but these are things Beto is talking about, and it’s way more fun to be on the majority side of questions like these.
There is one other poll we can talk about:
The results vary a bit between “all primary voters” (those who said they plan to vote in the March primary) and “almost certain primary voters”
— Jasper Scherer (@jaspscherer) 4:20 PM – 28 January 2022
Among likely registered voters “who indicated that they are likely to vote” in November:
Tippetts (L) 2
Barrios (G) 1
Survey finds O’Rourke up 51-39 among Latino voters, Abbott up 45-17 among independents.
— Jasper Scherer (@jaspscherer) 4:29 PM – 28 January 2022
I can’t find anything on the UH Hobby School page, but after looking all weekend I finally found a tweet that pointed me to their polling data. As noted, Beto does better with Latinos in this sample, and the partisan numbers (91-5 for Beto among Dems, 89-3 for Abbott among Rs) make more sense to me than what DMN/UT-Tyler has (72-14 among Dems for Beto, 74-10 for Abbott among Rs). But as always, it’s one result and we shouldn’t read too much into it. They have numbers for each primary race as well – it’s the main focus of the poll – which should be taken with the same large grain of salt. I suspect we’ll start seeing more general election polling going forward.