Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has a 15-point edge over his main Democratic rival, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), according to a new Quinnipiac University poll, a staggering lead that underscores the challenges ahead for Democrats in the state next year.

In a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, Abbott leads O’Rourke 52 percent to 37 percent. He also has stronger support among voters from his own party. Ninety percent of Republicans say they back Abbott, while 87 percent of Democrats support O’Rourke in the race.

O’Rourke, who ran a close Senate campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in 2018 before mounting a bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, jumped into the gubernatorial contest last month.

While he’s a proven fundraiser and aggressive campaigner, ousting Abbott next year is likely to be an uphill battle. Democrats are facing historical headwinds nationally in 2022, given that midterm elections are typically seen as referendums on the party in power in Washington. 

But the Quinnipiac poll also showed O’Rourke’s favorability underwater among Texas voters. Thirty-six percent say they have a favorable opinion of the former congressman compared to 47 percent who have an unfavorable opinion of him. Another 16 percent say they have not heard enough about him.

By comparison, 52 percent of voters say they have a favorable view of Abbott, while 42 percent report an unfavorable opinion of the incumbent governor.

Abbott’s approval rating has also seen a recovery in recent months. Fifty-three percent of voters say they approve of his job performance while 41 percent disapprove. That’s a marked improvement from September when his approval rating was underwater, 44 percent to 47 percent, according to Quinnipiac polling.

To be sure, the 2022 gubernatorial election in Texas is still 11 months away and O’Rourke has plenty of time to make up ground. He’s campaigned vigorously in his first month on the trail and has scored early successes in fundraising, bringing in $2 million in the 24 hours after announcing his campaign. 

The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,224 registered voters in Texas from Dec. 2-6. It has a margin of sampling error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

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