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Governor race tightens as Greg Abbott's lead over Beto O'Rourke shrinks to 6 points, poll finds

Austin American-Statesman logo Austin American-Statesman 7/7/2022 Niki Griswold, Austin American-Statesman
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The race for Texas governor is tightening, as Gov. Greg Abbott’s lead over Democrat Beto O’Rourke has shrunk to 6 percentage points, according to new polling data from the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.

Among the 1,200 registered Texas voters who participated in the poll, 45% indicated support for Abbott while 39% showed support for O’Rourke. In April, the Texas Politics Project found Abbott was ahead of O’Rourke by 11 points, with 48% of voters preferring Abbott and 37% preferring O’Rourke. 

There were other signs of optimism for O'Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso. Forty-four percent of respondents disapprove of Abbott's performance, the highest ever for that measure, while O'Rourke's unfavorable rating was 45%, an improvement of 2 points over the April poll.

More:'This is on you.' Beto confronts Abbott, Cruz at Uvalde school shooting press conference

The poll was conducted June 16-24, after the school shooting in Uvalde, but before President Joe Biden signed into law a historic bipartisan gun measure, largely negotiated by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Most respondents were surveyed before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which led to an abortion ban in Texas. Both abortion rights and gun rights are expected to play a role in the race, as O'Rourke has campaigned in recent weeks on his support for gun restrictions and abortion access.

Democrat Beto O'Rourke, left, and Gov. Greg Abbott © Lola Gomez (left), Aaron Martinez (right)/STATESMAN Democrat Beto O'Rourke, left, and Gov. Greg Abbott

Abbott, who is seeking a third term, joined state leaders in directing $105.5 million for bullet-resistant shields for law enforcement, as well as for mental health initiatives, among other things, meant to address school safety concerns. He has rejected any moves to limit access to guns or ammunition, and he has ignored calls from Democrats for a special legislative session to address gun violence.


Video: Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke holds hold 'rally for reproductive freedom' in East Austin (KVUE-TV Austin)

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Abbott also celebrated the Supreme Court's decision to end constitutional protections for abortion.

Abbott's focus continues to be securing the border — and blaming Biden for the large numbers of migrants crossing the border and, most recently, for the dozens of people who died in an immigrant smuggling operation in San Antonio. Biden continues to be unpopular in Texas with a disapproval rating of 55%, which has been relatively consistent over the past year. 

More:Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to talk border security after migrants found dead in San Antonio

The poll showed that a majority of Texans continue to favor gun control measures, with 78% supporting background checks on all gun purchases, 54% supporting an assault weapons ban, and 52% supporting raising the legal age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21.

Fifty-four percent of the poll respondents also opposed banning all abortions in Texas.

But what Josh Blank, research director of the Texas Politics Project, says is most notable about the poll results are the overwhelming negative assessments of the state that Texas and the country are in. 

“This is actually the 50th public poll that we’ve produced out of the Texas Politics Project going back over a decade, and in this survey, we recorded the worst ratings we've ever recorded across a range of measurements,” Blank said. 

“Seventy-six percent of Texans say that the country is on the wrong track, 59% say that Texas is on the wrong track, 73% of the national economy is worse off compared to last year, 58% said the Texas economy is worse than last year, and 53% say that their own economic situation is worse off than last year. These are all the worst recordings we've ever witnessed, not to mention the fact that in many cases, they represent sharp jumps over April polling,” Blank said.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Governor race tightens as Greg Abbott's lead over Beto O'Rourke shrinks to 6 points, poll finds

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