Can Beto catch Greg Abbott? Not likely

About a month ago, I looked at the polling numbers in Texas and concluded Beto O’Rourke’s decision to interrupt Texas governor Greg Abbott’s press conference on the Uvalde school shooting, shouting, “this is on you!” had little effect. “The incumbent was leading by mid to upper single-digit percentage points before the shooting, and the incumbent is leading by mid to upper single-digit percentage points after the shooting. Sometimes moments that seem like a big deal at the time turn out to be footnotes in the course of a campaign.”

The newest Dallas Morning News poll finds Abbott ahead of O’Rourke, with the incumbent Republican leading among registered voters 46 percent to 39 percent, ahead 48 percent to 42 percent among those likely to vote, and ahead 51 percent to 41 percent among those certain to vote.

It’s difficult to believe the gubernatorial candidate has really abandoned the ‘defund’ mission.

From the accounts in the national press after Uvalde, you would have believed the Uvalde shooting was a game-changer, and that the race was approaching toss-up status.

Newsweek: “Beto O’Rourke’s Chances of Ousting Greg Abbott Are Getting Better”

NBC News: “Beto O’Rourke raises Democrats’ hopes again in Texas”

The New York Times: “After Recent Turmoil, the Race for Texas Governor Is Tightening”

Beto O’Rourke has better name recognition, much better fundraising, and much better media coverage than the typical Democrat running statewide. Abbott beat Wendy Davis by 20 percentage points in 2014 and Lupe Valdez by 14 points in 2018. O’Rourke is likely to win a significantly bigger chunk of the votes in November 2022, but not enough to beat Abbott.

Despite Democratic arguments that the Uvalde mass shooting, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and other issues had changed the dynamics, Texas is still a Republican-leaning state in a year that is likely to be good for GOP candidates. No matter how much the media may want to turn Beto O’Rourke into a star, and no matter how much money that Democrats from outside of Texas pour into his campaign, he is the same guy who came close but no cigar against Ted Cruz in 2018.

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