In the latest poll from UT-Tyler and the Dallas Morning News, released over the weekend, Texas Governor Greg Abbott seems to be in decent though not spectacular shape in his quest for a third term, leading insurgent challenger Beto O’Rourke by seven percentage points, 46-39.
While that lead may give O’Rourke supporters pause, it shouldn’t. Despite millions of dollars in spending from Abbott during his Republican primary campaign and persistent attacks from the incumbent governor, O’Rourke continues to hang tough in a mid-term cycle expected to be otherwise brutal for Democrats nationally and in Texas.
And in digging further into the poll’s findings, it’s actually Abbott who should be hearing alarm bells in his campaign headquarters.
The reason? Abbott’s job approval ratings have again begun to slide, just as they did during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Despite once registering approval ratings in the high 50’s, today Abbott finds himself underwater, with 46% of Texans approving of the job he’s doing, while a full 50% disapprove. That completely flips the script on the last UTT/DMN poll in February, which had Abbott at 50% approval and 46% disapproval.
Traditionally in American politics, when an incumbent has a disapproval rating higher than their approval rating, it almost always spells disaster, either in the form of a closer-than-expected campaign or an outright loss, and Abbott has firmly entered the danger zone in the 2022 cycle, and he may not be alone: the same poll did a generic ballot test for State House races, finding that the GOP led by the narrowest of possible margins, 49-48.
While gerrymandering has made it unlikely that the GOP will lose enough seats in the Texas lege to make a dent, these numbers are deeply troubling for Texas Republicans like Abbott, whose leadership takes a beating throughout the poll.
On property taxes, a crucial issue Abbott and Republicans have tried to use as a wedge for years, it’s Abbott and state lawmakers that carry most of the blame, with 40% of respondents saying they were responsible for high property taxes.
On the border and immigration issues, where Abbott has worked hard to move far to the right, voters were asked if they trust Abbott or O’Rourke more to handle what’s happening at our southern border. 42% chose O’Rourke, while 41% chose Abbott. Despite that narrow gap, 48% of Texans disapprove of Abbott’s performance on border and immigration issues, while only 44% approve.
That creates a powerful lane for O’Rourke, who was born and raised on the border in El Paso, to occupy as his campaign continues to raise serious money and build momentum heading into the fall.
The race for Texas governor is shaping up to be a heated and close contest. Stay tuned to Texas Signal for more updates.
The Texas Signal is a progressive, fact-based media company. Our mission is to build a media ecosystem in Texas to help get the progressive message out and challenge right-wing Republicans. Think of us as a megaphone to finally counterbalance right-wing conservatives who have successfully built their own media empire in the Lone Star State.