AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A new poll by the University of Texas and Texas Politics Project shows Gov. Greg Abbott polling ahead of former congressman Beto O’Rourke in a hypothetical matchup by 10 percentage points — Abbott leading 47% to 37%.
The poll sampled 1,200 self-declared registered Texas voters between Jan. 28 and Feb. 7, with a margin of error of +/- 2.83%.
Abbott is pulling steadily ahead of his GOP primary challengers. Among likely Republican primary voters, 60% prefer Abbott, 15% prefer former Texas GOP chair Allen West and 14% support former state senator Don Huffines. Three other candidates received less than 5%.
At a campaign event to kick off the first day of early voting Monday, Abbott told reporters it’s “always good to be in the lead,” but he doesn’t expect the numbers to stay stagnant throughout the general, assuming he gets the Republican nomination.
“The more that I let Texans know what Beto really stands for, candidly, I think the polls should be widening,” he said.
During his speech to supporters in Austin, Abbott frequently compared O’Rourke to “radical leftists” in the national spotlight — specifically naming progressive U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, who was in the Lone Star State over the weekend campaigning for Greg Casar. The governor also drew comparison between O’Rourke and President Joe Biden, who suffered a low approval rating of 36% from all voters surveyed in this poll.
“The open border policies imposed by the Biden administration is supported by Beto O’Rourke himself. We’ve seen the catastrophe here,” Abbott said.
In a one-on-one interview with O’Rourke last Thursday, Nexstar’s Monica Madden asked the Democrat about the comparisons Abbott has been making.
“It sounds to me like Greg Abbott is desperate, and Greg Abbott is scared,” O’Rourke said Thursday. “We’re focused on the people of Texas, that’s who I am running for.”
Polling results for other statewide races and issues
In one of the most contested races this election season, Republican Attorney General incumbent Ken Paxton could be facing a runoff. The new poll shows Paxton with the support of 47% of likely GOP primary voters, below the needed majority to avoid a runoff.
Challenger Land Commissioner George P. Bush received the support of 21% of likely primary voters, Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman received 16% and U.S. Congressman Louie Gohmert received 15%.
Pollster Jim Henson, who directs the Texas Politics Project, said the Republican primary race for attorney general has been particularly interesting for several reasons.
“Incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton, who’s having to run with a degree of scandal and and legal issues hovering over his candidacy, is a bit below 50% in a very in a crowded and competitive field … [he] is still the clear front runner, but he’s been squeezed from both sides,” Henson said.
The poll also asked likely primary voters their confidence in actions taken to fix the state’s electric grid. Only 5% and 6% of Democrats and Republicans, respectively, said they’re extremely confident in the actions will prevent future disruptions in utility services. 41% of Republicans said they were “somewhat confident.”
On border security, 39% of the respondents said the state spends too little on border security, while 23% said the state spends too much and 23% said the state is spending about the right amount.
The poll also weighed voters’ opinions on abortion, education and voting rules. For a look at the complete report, click here.