Gov. Greg Abbott (R) leads Democratic challenger Beto O’ Rourke, 45%-39%, in the latest UT-Tyler/Dallas Morning News poll (pdf).

Abbott’s job approval rating is 49/41, which is lifted by his 88/14 rating among Republicans. Independents are on balance negative, giving his a 39/50 rating. All three of those ratings are better than those for O’Rourke. His favorability rating overall is 37/42. Democrats view him favorably (74/9) but not as favorably as Republicans view Abbott. Among independents, O’Rourke rates 28/44.

More than 8 out of 10 respondents are “likely” (16%) or “certain to vote” (68%) in the March primaries, which would be extraordinary if it occurred. Even seven out of 10 independents said they would vote in primary elections. Abbott has the support of 65% of Republican primary voters, while none of his rivals are above 6%. Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton (R) leads Land Comm. George P. Bush (R), 46%-32%, while former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman (R) polls at 7%.

More respondents would “be likely to support” actor Matthew McConaughey than Abbott (43%-35%) or O’Rourke (49%-27%). Yet, if he ran as a third-party candidate, he would poll behind Abbott (37%) and within the margin of error of O’Rourke (27%).

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