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UH-TSU Election Survey Finds Texas Races are Tight, but Few Shifts in State’s Republican Leadership Expected

By: Texas Southern University

The eyes of Texas, and far beyond, are on Republican incumbent Greg Abbott’s 7% lead over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke in their quest to occupy the governor’s office after the state’s Nov. 8 midterm elections.

But among close watchers of Texas politics, the most intriguing race may turn out to be for state attorney general.

“Two-time Republican incumbent Ken Paxton can currently claim only a narrow 3% lead over Democratic challenger Rochelle Mercedes Garza,” said Mark Jones, senior research associate, University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs and professor of political science, Rice University.

These insights are among findings in the “Texas Trends 2022: General Election” survey released today by the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs and Texas Southern University’s Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs. The new survey is part of the second chapter of the five-year Texas Trends series, which measures opinion shifts and policy preferences within Texas’ changing population.

“At present Texas seems poised to continue the conservative partisan incumbent class, leaving a significant portion of the electorate that opposes them locked out of power/representation,” said Dr. Michael O. Adams, Texas Southern University Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs professor. “The stability of that ruling regime, however, may be shifting. I would say that while there is not presently a majority that supports candidates that reflect the demographic shifts occurring in Texas, one would expect the influence of this ‘new demographic’ to increase. Indeed, since the current gap between support for the conservative partisan (Republican) regime and the more liberal partisan (Democratic) opposition is under 10%, an effective voter mobilization by the opposition [race, gender, generation, class, spatial] could turn the tide in some races as soon as the next cycle.” 

This new survey predicts few changes in politics for Republican-led, mostly red-voting Texas. 

“With the possible exception of the race for state attorney general, the blue wave once again appears nonexistent among Texas’ top positions. But some races will be close. Paxton’s lead over Garza is just half the size of the gap in either the governor’s or lieutenant governor’s race,” said Michael O. Adams, director, Executive Master of Public Administration Program, Texas Southern University. 

The survey uncovered notable differences within age and gender responses.

“Young voters overwhelmingly support O’Rourke over Abbott for governor. That support is enough to make a difference in the election, but only if those young voters are mobilized to actually vote,” said Renée Cross, senior executive director, UH Hobby School of Public Affairs.

By the Numbers

Governor: Among likely voters, Abbott leads O’Rourke by 7 percentage points, 49% to 42%. Libertarian Mark Tippetts and Green Party’s Delilah Barrios each tallied 1%, and 7% of likely voters were undecided on this race.

State Attorney General: Incumbent Paxton leads his opponent Garza by 3 percentage points, 45% to 42%, among likely voters. In the survey, 10% were still undecided. Libertarian Mark Ash tallied 3%.

Lieutenant Governor: Republican incumbent Patrick was favored by 49% of likely voters compared to Democrat Mike Collier’s 43%.

Considered by Gender: Abbott and O’Rourke matched on half of the gender divide in the governor’s race, each pulling 45% of women voters in the survey. Among male voters, Abbott had an 18% lead (55% to 37%).

For state attorney general, Garza held a 5% lead among women voters (45% to 40%). Men favored Paxton by 13% (51% to 38%).

Among women voters, Collier had a very narrow 1% lead for lieutenant governor (46% to 45%). Patrick tallied a 15% lead among male voters (54% to 39%).

Considered by Racial or Ethnic Identity: Abbott held a 29% lead in the governor’s race among white voters (62% to 32%). O’Rourke tallied a 57% lead among Black voters (72% to 15%) and a 15% lead among Latinos (53% to 38%).

In the state attorney general’s race, Paxton came away with a 23% lead among white voters (56% to 33%), while Garza had a 61% lead among Black voters (75% to 14%) and among 16% among Latinos (51% to 35%).

Patrick pulled a 26% lead among white voters for lieutenant governor (60% to 34%). Collier held 63% lead among Black voters (78% to 15%) and a 14% lead among Latinos (51% to 37%).

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