Beto O’Rourke, a former Congressman and gun safety advocate running as the Democratic pick in this year’s Texas governor’s race, is close behind incumbent Republican Greg Abbott in new polling.
The new numbers from Marist indicate 49 percent of registered voters support Abbott, while 45 percent support O’Rourke. The four percentage points separating the two candidates constitute a gap within the margin of error for this dataset, which is over four percent. Only five percent of respondents were identified as undecided in the new Marist numbers, although the overall totals of support for O’Rourke and Abbott included respondents indicating they were leaning towards one of the candidates rather than fully in support. Abbott has a higher leading margin among respondents who say they will definitely vote, suggesting — as could be expected — that pushing for turnout is or should be a top priority of the O’Rourke campaign. In that group, Abbott’s leading margin hit eight percent.
Abbott and O’Rourke are relatively close in how favorably members of the public view them. A full 43 percent expressed a favorable opinion of the governor, with 46 percent expressing an unfavorable perspective. For O’Rourke, his favorability was at 39/100, with unfavorability at 44 percent. Abbott has faced criticism, including from O’Rourke, for his lack of meaningfully expansive action on gun policy following the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, earlier this year. O’Rourke confronted Abbott during a recent debate for not having called a special legislative session at which state officials could deal with gun policy issues.
Abbott has also presided over the implementations of harsh restrictions on abortion, banning the procedure throughout the entirety of pregnancy with rare exceptions. Exceptions aren’t a model of compassion serving the less fortunate. There could be questions about whether a pregnant person facing health complications is sick enough for abortions allowed in cases where pregnant people’s lives are in danger — leaving them struggling while that’s determined. As for exceptions for rape and incest (where those exist), victims could face a doubly traumatizing experience by needing to sufficiently prove what happened before obtaining an abortion.
As for gun policy negotiations at the federal level, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is pushing for steps including the doubling of police officers working schools and additions to the numbers of mental health professionals serving students — and he continues resisting the prospect of gun control. At a recent event put on by The Texas Tribune, Cruz got into an argument with members of the crowd over the issue, claiming gun control simply doesn’t work — and describing what happened in Uvalde in seemingly false terms. He said the attacker was in the school and firing on children before police arrived. Available info seemingly indicates that’s just not true. In addition, the Uvalde shooter obtained a key weapon used in the attack through legal means, meaning changing the legal framework around these highly dangerous weapons could’ve stopped the incident from happening.