Gov. Greg Abbott (R) leads Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, 51%-44%, among likely voters, according to a new Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation poll. His lead increases to 53%-43% among “almost certain voters,” continuing a trend observed in recent polls. More than 90% of each candidate’s supporters said they were certain of their vote choice.

Abbott leads O’Rourke by a greater than 2-to-1 margin among White voters (69%-33%) while O’Rourke leads among Black voters (79%-16%) and Hispanic/Latino voters (53%-39%). Abbott leads among men by 18 points (57%-39%) while O’Rourke has a narrow lead among women (48%-46%). Independents favor Abbott, 54%-26%.

How independents break is rather crucial to O’Rourke’s chances. In his 2018 challenge of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R), O’Rourke received nearly 500K more votes than Democratic gubernatorial nominee Lupe Valdez. Because straight-party votes counted for both, that difference logically had to come from full-ballot voters. O’Rourke received 171K more votes from full-ballot voters than Cruz, but Abbott received 724K more votes from this group than Valdez – a swing of nearly 900K votes. Back-of-the-envelope math suggests between 400K and 500K Texans voted for Abbott and O’Rourke – representing between 24% and 30% of all voters who voted for Abbott that did not do so via straight-party vote.

Of course, O’Rourke was not running against Abbott as he is now, and thus there are no voters who can vote for both this time (Any that do will not have either vote count.). In its October 2018 poll, the Texas Politics Project found O’Rourke leading Cruz, 51%-38%, among independents, and Abbott led Valdez, 58%-30%, among the same group. Full-ballot voters are a larger subset than self-identified independents, but their preferences overall tracked at least in the direction of self-identified independents.

As noted above, independents favor Abbott over O’Rourke, 54%-26%, according to this poll. Other September polls found independents breaking as follows:

  • O’Rourke 36%, Abbott 35% (DMN/UT-Tyler)
  • Abbott 40%, O’Rourke 22% (UT)
  • Abbott 47%, O’Rourke 25% (UH/TSU)

None of those splits is sufficient for O’Rourke.

Republicans lead the remaining polled statewide races by single digits: Patrick +6 (+8 almost certain), Paxton +5 (+7), Hegar +8 (+10), Buckingham +8 (+12), Miller +7 (+11) and Christian +7 (+10). Republicans lead the generic U.S. House ballot, 50%-43%, among likely voters and 53%-42% among almost certain voters.

The survey of 1,172 likely voters was in the field September 6-15 and has a ±3.3% margin of error.

©2022 Texas Election Source LLC