Nov 2, 2021 - Politics
Greg Abbott, Beto O'Rourke virtually tied in new poll
A photo of a hand holding a sign that reads "Beto For Governor" in the foreground of the Texas Capitol
Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

In a fresh poll one year ahead of the general election, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is virtually tied with Beto O'Rourke — if the former congressman chooses to run.

The big picture: The poll from the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and Rice University's Baker Institute shows O'Rourke within the margin of error, plus or minus 2.6%.

  • Abbott leads with 44% support, compared to O'Rourke's 43%; 10% of respondents were undecided.
  • Pollsters surveyed 1,402 voters who cast ballots in 2020.

Why it matters: Even as Abbott has shored up his right flank ahead of a Republican primary, he has achieved this objective by cutting deeply into his support with Texans who vote in the general election," Jason Villalba, chairman and CEO of the TxHPF, said.

  • "Abbott's shift to the hard right may have imperiled his governorship," Villalba added.

Zoom out: O'Rourke hasn't actually committed to running, but Abbott's already treating him like an opponent.

Abbott will face three primary challengers in his reelection bid, but the survey shows him well ahead of former state Sen. Don Huffines, former state GOP chairman Allen West and radio host Chad Prather.

  • There's also some speculation that actor Matthew McConaughey could jump into the race, although it's unclear whether he'd run as a Republican, Democrat or independent.
  • The poll found that not much would change if McConaughey ran as an independent. He would start the race with support from 9% of registered voters, with Abbott at 40% and O'Rourke at 37%.

Our thought bubble: A lot can change in a year, and polls have let Democrats down before. In 2018, polls showed a tightening race between O'Rourke and Sen. Ted Cruz, but Cruz narrowly defeated him by less than 3 percentage points.

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