The latest poll by the COVID-19 Consortium, a project by Harvard and other universities that survey the approval rating of governors during the pandemic, shows Gov. Greg Abbott’s approval rating has fallen for the sixth straight month in a row.
Only 35 percent of Texans approve of Abbott’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the late August poll.
The approval rating is a three percentage point drop since late July when Abbott’s approval rating stood at 38 percent, and a 26 point drop since April when the polling project began and when the governor’s approval rating stood at a high of 61 percent.
The polling was conducted throughout most of the month of August, as the state’s positivity rate had begun to decline since its peak in early July.
Texans did not know the virus was peaking in July due to a backlog of tests updated only this week. State data at the time erroneously showed Texas’ positivity rate peaking in August. Other inconsistencies and issues with the state data were profiled by The New York Times on Sunday.
Texas’ current positivity rate, 7 percent, is still above 5 percent, the benchmark recommended by the World Health Organization that is supposed to be held for two weeks. The reopening of schools and the fact that Texas teachers are reporting hundreds of COVID-19 safety violations, could also change the outbreak’s current trajectory.
In recent weeks, Abbott has shifted the conversation away from his and President Trump’s inability to contain the outbreak to the issue of police funding. As Austin moves to divest funding from its police department to social safety net programs, the governor is urging candidates to sign a pledge promising not to defund police.
“We did what people wanted,” Austin Mayor Adler told KVUE reacting to the governor’s pledge. “We started moving toward adding mental health first responders so that it’s not up to our police to do that. Our police shouldn’t be our social workers dealing with poverty on our streets.”
Last week, Texas Democrats released a pledge of their own urging Republicans to defend public health experts and protect the healthcare of Texans.
“What the state GOP is really doing with the pledge is trying to generate an issue to ‘define’ this election that’s not Donald Trump,” wrote Texas Monthly’s Chrisopher Hooks in a good breakdown of Abbot’s last-minute pivot to police funding.
As of Tuesday, Texas is reporting a cumulative total of 14,211 fatalities and 663,445 confirmed cases.
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