Per new polling, Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke, who is a former Congressman and more recently prominently joined the push for gun safety measures after this year’s elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, is gaining on Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who he is challenging.
The survey numbers are the work of Echelon Insights, and they reveal one of the smallest gaps between the two candidates of any major survey conducted in the race up to this point, according to the listing of polling data maintained by the elections data and analysis site FiveThirtyEight. In the results, 48 percent of overall respondents indicated they would either definitely or probably vote for the Republican incumbent in this year’s governor’s race, while 46 percent said the same of O’Rourke, putting the candidates just two percentage points apart. Five percent of respondents indicated they were unsure. YouGov polling conducted in mid to late August found Abbott ahead of O’Rourke by seven percentage points. Although Texas obviously maintains a GOP-leaning reputation, the flippable margin in the new Echelon Insights polling is around the same margin in the final results from when O’Rourke challenged Sen. Ted Cruz (R), so the numbers are realistic.
With recent political developments in view, who holds various governorships has taken on an even more pressing importance. Broadly, the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election showed it’s often state officials like governors standing in the way — or providing for — interference with the outcome of a presidential election. Under current standards, these officials maintain critical roles in the certification of election results, and what if they decide to take a different path? Meanwhile, the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade also put even more focus on those in power at state levels. In Texas, the Republican administration led by Abbott already oversaw the implementation of harsh, new restrictions on abortion, including a law that recently became active that makes performing an abortion a felony offense punishable by up to life in prison and massive financial penalties. The ban covers the entirety of pregnancy and includes exceptions only for cases where the life of the pregnant person is at stake because of complications from the pregnancy.