Poll shows Texas Republicans with sizable leads in state wide races

Top Texas Republicans looking to hold their positions of power this November are reporting sizable leads over their Democratic counterparts, according to a new poll released Friday.

The UT/Texas Politics Project Poll found that among likely voters, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton each held a double digit lead over their challengers days before the start of early voting. The poll surveyed 1,200 self-declared registered voters from Oct. 7-17.

“The political context expressed in the poll results and the characteristics of the broader election environment are consistent with increasing GOP leads in Texas, even if those advantages don’t remain as large as they are in this poll through the final two weeks of campaigning,” said Jim Henson, executive director of the Texas Politics Project. “Barring major political upheavals in Texas between now and Nov. 8, there’s not much chance of a fundamental reversal of the current dynamic favoring Texas Republicans.”

In the race for governor, Abbott held a 14-point lead — 54% to 43% — over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, according to the poll. Green Party candidate Delilah Barrios and the Libertarian Party’s Mark Tippets each earned 1% support, while 2% preferred an unspecified “someone else,” the poll said.

While Abbott maintained support from a majority of white voters and O’Rourke is backed by a majority of Black voters, the poll found that each is virtually tied among likely Hispanic voters.

In the race for lieutenant governor, Patrick reported a 15-point lead over Democratic challenger Mike Collier — 51% to 36%, according to the poll. About 5% of voters said they favored Shanna Steele, of the Libertarian Party, while 8% said someone else.

For attorney general, Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza’s momentum appears to have slipped as she fell 14% behind Paxton, despite his two felony indictments, being under an FBI investigation and being sued by the Texas bar.

Despite Garza’s efforts to highlight Paxton’s legal woes frequently on the campaign trail, 42% of voters said they have not heard much or at all of Paxton’s problems, the poll said.

The Texas Republican candidates for the other statewide races also reported sizable leads.

For comptroller, incumbent Glenn Hegar held a 12-point lead over Democratic opponent Janet Dudding. Agriculture commissioner incumbent Sid Miller maintained a 13-point lead over Susan Hayes. And land commissioner Republican candidate Dawn Buckingham reported an 11-point lead over Democrat Jay Kelberg.

“With more than two weeks to go before Election Day, this snapshot from last week shouldn’t be taken as a prediction of what the final vote totals will look like. But given that the margins are somewhat wider than what we’ve seen in recent polls of likely voters (which have had Abbott leading by 7 or 8 points), it’s fair to ask how durable the apparent GOP advantages in these results might be, and whether they make sense in context,” Henson said.

The poll also found that Texas voters rank border security and inflation ahead of gun control and abortion as the most pressing issues facing the state. Thirty-two percent of respondents said immigration and border security was the most pressing issue, while 14% said the state economy, 13% said abortion and 9% said gun violence.

At least 83% of respondents said border security and immigration were at least somewhat important in their decision on who to vote for this coming election.

Additionally, 81% of respondents said gun violence and 73% said abortion was impacting their vote this November.

In another blow to Democrats, Republican voters remain more enthusiastic about the election than Democratic voters, the poll said.

In the overall registered voter sample, the share of Republicans who say they are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in the 2022 election is 14 percentage points higher than the share of Democrats, 57% compared to 43%.

“Negative partisanship remains a powerful force in Texas politics, which plays to the advantage of Republicans by reinforcing their numerical advantage in the electorate,” Henson added. “Statewide Democrats, including (especially) Beto O’Rourke, need to find additional voters beyond established Democratic voters.”

Early voting begins Monday. Election Day is Nov. 8.

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