Poll: Greg Abbott expands lead over Beto O’Roarke

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott now has a 9-point lead over his Democratic challenger, Beto O’Roarke, according to a new poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler.

Abbott grew his lead from 7 percentage points last month, according to the Dallas Morning News. Abbott leads O’Rourke with 47% support in the new poll to 38%.

The representative sample included 40% Republican respondents, 33% Democratic and 27% who didn’t belong to either major party.

Abbott’s lead under-performs respondents’ sentiments of President Joe Biden, with 57% either disapproving or strongly disapproving of Biden’s job performance. However, the disparity could be largely due to undecided voters and those supporting other candidates, with Delilah Barrios or Mark Tippetts drawing 3% each, 6% supporting “someone else” and 2% undecided. Barrios is a Green Party candidate while Tippetts is running on the Libertarian ticket.

O’Roarke, meanwhile, is under-performing his own approval ratings. Of total respondents, 40%, 2 percentage points more than said they’d vote for him, indicated a positive favorability rating, while 47% indicated a negative favorability rating.

Half of respondents indicated approval for Abbott’s job performance as Governor, while 47% disapprove or strongly disapprove of his job performance.

Abbott’s surge in the polls may be attributable to his recent surge of television ads.

Political scientists in Texas seem to agree.

“A clear change in the election is that the Abbott campaign started advertising and they went negative, while being the only campaign on the air,” Poll Director Mark Owens, who teaches political science at UT-Tyler, told the Dallas Morning News. “Registered voters who say they saw the advertisements supported Gov. Abbott 23% more often.”

University of Houston professor Brandon Rottinghaus told the paper Abbott’s “solid and even growing lead” is a result of “the incumbency advantage,” including his edge in money, broadcasting airtime and name recognition.

It remains to be seen whether Abbott’s controversial decision to send buses of migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ official residence will impact his poll numbers.

But the latest poll results suggest Abbott is winning on the immigration issue. Of those surveyed, 48% said they thought Abbott would do a better job of securing the border, while only 24% said the same of O’Roarke.

Polls have also shown improving sentiment over abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, a move that has sent this midterm election cycle into unpredictable chaos. The shift toward more accepting perceptions on outlawing abortion may also be helping Abbott’s numbers in the polls.

The most recent poll shows 46% of respondents either strongly or somewhat approve of the decision to overturn Roe, while the same number either strongly disapprove or somewhat disapprove. While the numbers are split, there are more individuals lukewarm on the issue in favor, than those against, with 16% of respondents saying they somewhat approve of the decision and 11% saying they somewhat disapprove.

Meanwhile, the poll shows half of respondents believe abortion should be legal in at least most cases, while only 49% believe it should be illegal in at least most cases. Still, the number favoring making abortion illegal in most cases, if not all, is up 5 points since the last poll in August, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The most recent poll surveyed 1,268 registered voters from Sept. 6-13 with a margin of error of +/-2.9%.

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