AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas voters weighed in recently about Gov. Greg Abbott potentially squaring off next year against actor Matthew McConaughey and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke in the highly-anticipated governor’s race.
The latest polling from Quinnipiac University found that voters are split on whether Abbott should get another term as governor. After polling 1,099 registered voters in Texas, the results showed 48% said he does not deserve to be re-elected, while 46% said he does. The polling period happened between June 15 and June 21.
The partisan breakdown revealed that Abbott remains in good standing with the state’s Republicans — 82% say he deserves re-election. However, 50% of independents and 88% of Democrats told pollsters Abbott does not deserve another term.
When it came to potential challengers in the Texas gubernatorial race, McConaughey fared better with voters than O’Rourke did. The poll results showed 41% of voters would like the Oscar-winning actor, whose political party affiliation remains unknown, to run, while 47% said he should stay out of the race.
The polling further showed 47% of independents would like McConaughey to run, while 44% of Democrats did. Meanwhile, 60% of Republicans said they’re against the prospect of him jumping into the political fray.
More Texans opposed the idea of O’Rourke, the well-known El Paso Democrat, running for governor next year, according to the poll. By a margin of 52-41%, voters told pollsters they would not like the former presidential candidate to get into the race.
Democrats, however, overwhelmingly supported the idea — 77% saying they’d like to see O’Rourke run. Half of the independents and 89% of the Republicans polled said they do not want him to seek the top elected office in Texas.
Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac University polling analyst, said these results show why they chose to poll people about how the political landscape is shaping up in Texas.
“It’s an interesting state. Every election cycle, it gets closer to purple and away from red. It’s not a Democrat state at all, but it’s moving in that direction,” Malloy said. “McConaughey is a native son. He’s got star power, and he wrote a bestselling book that’s still top of the shelves, so that’s important. He’s a breath of fresh air. The fact that the governor’s a big supporter of Trump and possibly Trumpian policies may work against him. May work for him, as well. But something is definitely going on with Matthew McConaughey here.”
The margin of error in the polling was about three percentage points, according to Quinnipiac University.
“I think Gov. Abbott is still solid, but he might have formidable opponents,” Malloy said. “This is another reason why we polled this because this would be a gubernatorial race unlike any we’ve seen.”
Pollsters also asked voters whether they supported Gov. Abbott’s proposal for the state to pay for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The poll found 50% of voters overall supported the border wall, and 46% opposed it.
By a margin of 89-8%, Republicans overwhelmingly expressed support for the project. Meanwhile, 46% of independents and only 14% of Democrats backed the idea, the poll found.
When it comes to Abbott’s other plan to arrest people who cross into the country illegally, the poll found a majority of Texas voters (55-38%) said it’s a good idea.
Here’s how the voters polled ranked the favorability of a number of people, elected officials and potential candidates:
- Gov. Greg Abbott: 49% favorable, 43% unfavorable, 7% haven’t heard enough.
- Matthew McConaughey: 42% favorable, 20% unfavorable, 36% haven’t heard enough.
- Beto O’Rourke: 34% favorable, 42% unfavorable, 23% haven’t heard enough.
- Attorney General Ken Paxton: 29% favorable, 32% unfavorable, 38% haven’t heard enough.
- George P. Bush, Republican candidate for attorney general: 26% favorable, 27% unfavorable, 46% haven’t heard enough.
- Allen West, former Texas GOP chairman: 25% favorable, 10% unfavorable, 65% haven’t heard enough.
- Sid Miller, Texas agriculture commissioner: 12% favorable, 9% unfavorable, 78% haven’t heard enough.
- Eva Guzman, Republican candidate for attorney general: 10% favorable, 8% unfavorable, 81% haven’t heard enough.
- Lee Merritt, Democratic candidate for attorney general: 9% favorable, 5% unfavorable, 85% haven’t heard enough.
- Don Huffines, Republican candidate for governor: 8% favorable, 8% unfavorable, 83% haven’t heard enough.
- Joe Jaworski, Democratic candidate for attorney general: 4% favorable, 8% unfavorable, 87% haven’t heard enough.