Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has gained on Democrat Beto O’Rourke in the high-stakes race for Texas governor and now has a 9-point cushion, up from 7 points last month.
According to a new poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler, Abbott leads O’Rourke 47% to 38%.
The poll, conducted Sept. 6-13, surveyed 1,268 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
Abbott’s recent flood of TV ads, which for weeks went unanswered, and voters’ slight rightward tilt on abortion, the border and crime may have helped the two-term incumbent build on a 46%-39% lead in August, two political scientists agreed.
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“A clear change in the election is that the Abbott campaign started advertising and they went negative while being the only campaign on the air,” said poll director Mark Owens, who teaches political science at UT-Tyler. “Registered voters who say they saw the advertisements supported Gov. Abbott 23% more often.”
University of Houston professor Brandon Rottinghaus said Abbott’s “solid and even growing lead” is a natural result of “the incumbency advantage” — his edge in money, broadcasting airtime and name recognition.
After a spring and summer in which the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade and the mass shooting at a Uvalde elementary school boosted O’Rourke, the traditional heating up of campaigns after Labor Day has brought Abbott to more friendly terrain on matters of most concern to voters, Rottinghaus said.
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