A poll released Tuesday by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune shows Texans are evenly split on Governor Greg Abbott’s job performance. Abbott’s approval rating is now at 44 percent according to the poll, with an equal percentage disapproving.
The poll is only slightly better than the results of the UT/TT poll in May, which put Abbott at 43 percent approval and 46 percent approval. Overall, Abbott has been on a clear downward trend over the past year, with his approval rating steadily eroding after reaching an all-time high of 56 percent in April 2020. Abbott’s popularity increased in the early days of the pandemic, but ebbed as cases surged throughout the summer.
Abbott’s approval rating is only slightly higher than President Joe Biden, who is at 43 percent among Texans. Last month’s poll actually found Biden one point above Abbott. The president gets high marks among Texans for his handling of COVID-19, but low marks for his handling of immigration and the border.
Abbott’s far-right agenda might have contributed to the decline of his approval rating. Polls released in June show that most Texans do not believe voter fraud is common, are against permitless carry, and support expanding Medicaid. Many of the items Abbott pushed through in the most recent legislative session appeal to the Republican base but not a majority of Texans.
The poll does not automatically spell doom for Abbott. A low approval rating does not necessarily translate into an election loss, as Senator Susan Collins recently demonstrated. Voters that do not like the incumbent will not necessarily vote for the challenger, and Democrats will still need to field a competitive candidate in order to win the governorship. Furthermore, the 44-44 split merely indicates that a gubernatorial election could be competitive, and polls are always subject to a margin of error.
Still, the overall trend should give Abbott reason to worry. For comparison, Abbott went into his last election with an approval rating above 50 percent. The polling data does indicate that Abbott is beatable, especially if he continues to prioritize red meat issues for the base instead of policies that benefit the average Texan.
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