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Beto O'Rourke speaks at a rally at the Texas State Capitol in June. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Actor Matthew McConaughey’s nine-point lead in a theoretical matchup against Greg Abbott shows just how vulnerable the hard-right Texas governor could be in a general election.

Why it matters: Abbott has won conservative accolades for his abortion, mask and vaccine bans. Axios reported Sunday that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to announce a gubernatorial challenge — but a recent poll shows he’s not even the most popular Democrat in the state.

  • Few in Texas Democratic circles believe the Academy Award-winning McConaughey is serious about a potential political run.
  • That would mean O’Rourke would have a clearer shot to secure his party's nomination.
  • It also would let him moderate some of his positions while training his focus on Abbott, who still has to fend off a primary challenge from former Rep. Allen West.

By the numbers: The new poll from the Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler had McConaughey up 44% to 35% over Abbott.

  • In the same survey, O’Rourke’s numbers were far softer. Abbott beat him 42% to 37%.
  • Abbott's approval rating is 45% positive, 44% negative.

Between the lines: For comparison, President Biden had a 42%-52% approval rating — a full 10 points underwater.

  • Sen. Ten Cruz (R-Texas), who faced brutal headlines over his trip to Cancun last winter while his state’s electric grid was failing, was — barely — in positive territory, at 44%-42%.

But, but, but: Texas Democrats have dreamed big before — like when O'Rourke challenged Cruz in 2018 — only to be disappointed on Election Day. Abbott may be vulnerable, but it's telling that Biden is even less popular.

Go deeper

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

26 mins ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Filings show Sweetgreen isn't profitable, despite claims

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public, and revealed that it lost money in each year since 2014.

Why it matters: The company lied when it repeatedly told reporters it was profitable.