Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic contender for governor in Texas this year, is within single digits of incumbent Republican Greg Abbott, who is running for re-election, in new survey data from the University of Texas at Tyler.
Among likely voters, O’Rourke was six percent behind, with 44 percent to Abbott’s 50 percent. With registered voters, the Democratic candidate was only three percent behind, nabbing 44 percent of the support to Abbott’s 47 percent. Among independents from the pool of likely voters, Abbott and O’Rourke were tied, and O’Rourke led among likely voters who were Black, Latino, women, and under 45 years old. A full 2.79 million early votes were already cast in Texas, most of which were cast in person. Per available data, Texas is towards the top of the list in terms of the number of early votes residents have already submitted. Florida and California voters have already also cast millions of votes apiece, with Election Day quickly approaching — although in certain races, the outcome likely won’t be swiftly available because of delays in counting ballots.
In Texas, Abbott has faced criticism on fronts including abortion policy, with a new state law in place making providing abortion a felony punishable by up to life in prison and massive financial penalties. He has also proven predictably hesitant to enact any kind of sweeping reform to gun policy, even in the aftermath of this year’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. In both Texas and Georgia, Republican officials have enacted measures allowing residents otherwise eligible for carrying handguns to do so without a permit, which has sparked serious concern. In Texas, O’Rourke has been among those leading activism for reforms to gun policy. He appeared at demonstrations outside of a Houston convention of the National Rifle Association earlier this year, and he has brought up the issue while campaigning. O’Rourke is himself a former Congressman who made an unsuccessful bid for Senate against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) the last time the unpopular Senator was re-elected.
Other high-profile races for governor include those in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona. Incumbent Republican Brian Kemp consistently leads in Georgia polling, and Kari Lake, the GOP pick in Arizona, does well in surveys there. Polls from Pennsylvania and Michigan suggest the Democrats in those states are faring significantly better as Election Day approaches. In these swing states, a governor could exert significant control over the handling of results from the 2024 presidential election, and if Trump runs again — as he has hinted over and over that he’s doing — and loses, well, what will happen then? Even if the results are eventually set right by the courts, what about the ensuing chaos? Obviously, there’s a general history of political violence in the United States. What there’s not a history of in recent decades is the torchbearer for a major political party openly accepting and arguably directly encouraging violence. Here comes 2024…