Poll finds Abbott with 10-point lead over Beto O'Rourke

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has a comfortable lead over former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) on the strength of a big advantage among independent voters, a new poll shows.

The survey, conducted by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, finds Abbott leading the former congressman and Democratic presidential candidate by a 47 percent to 37 percent margin. Abbott leads O’Rourke among independents 42 percent to 21 percent.

Abbott faces two challengers from the right in next month’s primary election, but he appears comfortably ahead in his bid for a third term in office. Six in 10 Republican primary voters say they will vote to renominate Abbott; former Rep. Allen West takes 15 percent, and former state Sen. Don Huffines claims 14 percent.

Another candidate who shares the name of Abbott’s predecessor, Rick Perry, takes 5 percent, while 3 percent say they favor Chad Prather, a conservative radio personality.

Just 44 percent of voters say they approve of the job Abbott is doing, driven in part by at least some division among members of his own party. About 3 in 4 Republicans approve of Abbott’s job performance, lower than the levels of support most other governors enjoy among their own side. Forty-two percent, including three-quarters of Democrats, disapprove of Abbott’s job performance.

A plurality of voters say they approve of the way Abbott has handled the economy, immigration and border security issues, and the coronavirus pandemic. But 45 percent say they disapprove the job Abbott has done handling the electric grid in Texas, a year after significant winter storms knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of Texans.

O’Rourke recently launched a statewide tour focused on the power grid, and a recent winter storm affected tens of thousands, though not as many households as the storm system from last year.

Texas voters appear to be in a sour mood about most of their elected officials. Only 36 percent approve of the job President Biden is doing, and only about a third of voters approve of Sen. John Cornyn (R), Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R). Just 43 percent said they have a favorable view of former President Trump, who carried the state’s electoral votes in both 2016 and 2020.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R) has a job approval rating of 39 percent, while 43 percent disapprove. Only 23 percent of Texans believe the country is headed in the right direction, and 53 percent say the economy is worse off than it was a year ago, despite record-low jobless figures.

Some of that pessimism comes from inflation, which Texans say is impacting their household budgets. Half of Texas voters say increased prices have had a major impact on their financial situations, and 88 percent say they have noticed price increases in recent months.

The Texas Politics Project Poll surveyed 1,200 registered voters from Jan. 28 to Feb. 7. The poll carried an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

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