Poll: Abbott leads GOP primary, O’Rourke by wide margins

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appears comfortably ahead of both Republicans who are challenging him in the March primary election and the well-funded Democrat he is likely to face in November’s general election, a new poll has found.

The survey, conducted by the University of Texas-Tyler for The Dallas Morning News, found Abbott leading a bevy of conservative challengers with 59 percent of the vote. None of the others — including ex-Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), former state Sen. Don Huffines (R) and conservative television personality Chad Prather (R) — tops 7 percent of the vote.

A computer engineer who shares a name with Abbott’s predecessor, former Gov. Rick Perry (R), takes 4 percent of the vote, the same share as Huffines and ahead of Prather.

In a general election match-up, Abbott would begin with a leg up on former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who raised an impressive $7.2 million in his first seven weeks on the campaign trail. Abbott leads O’Rourke 47 percent to 36 percent, the poll found.

Abbott is running even with O’Rourke among Latino voters, a critical constituency that Abbott has courted during his two terms in office. The poll shows Abbott leading O’Rourke among independent voters by a 37 percent to 31 percent margin and by a 29-point edge among white voters.

The poll shows O’Rourke waltzing to victory in the Democratic primary, in which he faces seven little-known contenders.

Just over half of Texas voters, 51 percent, say they approve of the job Abbott has done as governor, while 45 percent disapprove. By contrast, only 37 percent view O’Rourke favorably, and 45 percent see him in an unfavorable light.

Republican primary voters are likely to renominate Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), an archconservative who has become a powerful force in the Texas Legislature. None of Patrick’s challengers poll above 3 percent, though almost half of primary voters say they remain undecided a little more than a month before the election.

But Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) may be headed for a runoff election. Paxton, who has been under indictment for securities fraud since 2015, leads state Land Commissioner George P. Bush (R) by a 33 percent to 19 percent margin; former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman (R) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) trail at 7 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

If Paxton does not receive a majority of the vote in the March 1 primary, he and the second-place contender would head to a May 24 runoff.

Paxton has been endorsed by former President Trump, even after Bush — the son of Trump’s onetime presidential rival Jeb Bush — lobbied to win Trump’s affection.

The poll surveyed 1,082 registered voters in Texas from Jan. 18 to 25, in both English and Spanish. The overall margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.