A new poll released by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston shows which candidates are leading in the upcoming Texas general election and what issues matter the most to voters.
The results show Gov. Greg Abbott leading Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke by a 5-point margin among likely voters. Top issues for voters include inflation, public safety, economic growth and health care costs.
Renée Cross, executive director of the Hobby School, joined us to discuss the biggest takeaways from the poll. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.
Texas Standard: Tell us a little about the poll itself: Who did you survey, and when was this conducted?
Renée Cross: Well, we conducted it from June 27 through July 7. And this went into the field just three days after the Supreme Court decision on abortion policy. It’s a statewide sample representative of the population of Texas’ registered voters and close to 1,200 respondents.
This is coming right after the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the Uvalde school shooting. Obviously, a lot of Texans have both these issues weighing on their minds. What did voters tell your pollsters about what’s most important to them this election season?
Well, surprisingly — after the Dobbs decision, as you mentioned, and the Uvalde tragedy — the top issues when voters are selecting their gubernatorial candidate are inflation, crime and public safety, economic growth, governmental spending and taxes and health care cost. Gun control and abortion actually are much lower.
Are we talking about in the aggregate, or are Republicans and Democrats polling roughly the same here?
Yes, in the aggregate of likely voters. However, if you go down a little and dig a little bit deeper, you can see some differences. For example, among likely voters for Gov. Abbott, 96% believe that inflation is very important. That is in contrast to likely voters for O’Rourke; they look at it at 71%.
Let’s talk about that governor’s race. It appears Greg Abbott has about a 5-point lead over his challenger Beto O’Rourke. What more did you learn about who’s supporting each candidate and any changes in the governor’s favorability ratings?
Well, overall, I think both candidates have their usual suspects supporting them. Women favor O’Rourke and men favor Gov. Abbott by very large margins. In ethnicity and race, whites favor Gov. Abbott, and Black and Latinos favor O’Rourke.
What about any changes in the governor’s favorability ratings? What did you see?
Yes, in the favorability ratings, Gov. Abbott has gone down to 49%. However, he still enjoys the highest favorability of any of the politicians that we queried. For example, while Abbott has a favorability rating of 49% among all registered voters, O’Rourke rates at 44%. So, all of these folks are under 50%. So, at this point, it looks like Texans aren’t too thrilled with any of our candidates.
I’m noticing a 5-point percentage point gap between Dan Patrick, the Republican lieutenant governor, and his Democratic challenger, Mike Collier. Also, another 5-point separation between Attorney General Ken Paxton and his Democratic challenger, Rochelle Garza. Are the same issues at play for each of these races?
More than likely. However, it should be pointed out in the attorney general’s race, there is a libertarian candidate, Mark Ash, that has garnered 4% of the vote. And we also have to keep in mind that Mike Collier, even though he has run several times now statewide, he still has a relatively low name I.D. and certainly the same thing can be said for Rochelle Garza.