Recent polling shows Democrat Beto O’Rourke gained favorability in the Texas gubernatorial race against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The governor remains six points ahead of his opponent, but his positions on reproductive rights and gun laws could be the deciding factor in the November election.
The University of Texas (UT) Politics Project’s June 16-24, 2022, poll of 1,200 Texans reveals voters are concerned about the direction the state’s leadership is moving. Fifty-nine percent (59%) said Texas is on the wrong track reflecting an 8% increase over April’s polling. Likewise, those favoring O’Rourke over Abbott increased by 3%.
Based on the polling results, it appears current Texan legislative representatives do not consider their constituents’ preferences:
- The Texas Republican Party passed a resolution that Joe Biden’s presidency was illegitimate even though 54% of UT poll respondees believed the election was valid, only 35% thought the opposite, and 11% stated they were unsure. Overall, 61% believe the official results of U.S. elections are accurate.
- HB 1927, the Firearm Carry Act of 2021, allows individuals 21 and older to carry handguns without a license. However, that does not sit well with 43% of Texas citizens who believe that more guns will lead to less safety. In fact, 52% want stricter gun laws: 28% of Republicans and 85% of Democrats of those polled believe laws governing guns should be more robust.
- Seventy-eight percent (78%) supported expanded background checks on all gun purchases in the United States, and 66% agreed that courts should be allowed “to require a person determined to be a risk to themselves or others to temporarily surrender guns in their possession,” according to UT News. However, the Texas GOP platform does not support red flag laws. Moreover, four years ago, Gov. Abbott encountered a strong negative response from conservatives after suggesting legislators support extreme risk laws.
- After the Supreme Court essentially turned abortion legislation to the states when they overturned Roe v. Wade, only 37% of UT poll respondees supported Texas’ trigger law to ban abortion in most cases.
The UT Politics Project’s latest polling data shows that Texas is ready for more liberal leadership. O’Rourke is a fourth-generation Texan. He lives in El Paso, where he has served as a small business owner, a city council representative, and a member of Congress for the 16th District from 2013 to 2019. O’Rourke’s campaign website outlines his platform on issues affecting Texans, including gun safety, reproductive freedom, marijuana legalization, voting rights, and more.
Together, we can push past the small and divisive politics that we can see in Texas today — and get back to the big, bold, vision that used to define Texas.
O’Rourke believes the Second Amendment can be protected while keeping Texans safe from gun violence. His family practices safe and responsible use of firearms. He wants to uphold this age-old tradition. To do that, he wants to change how easy it is for individuals to use guns irresponsibly.
“Over 4,000 Texans are killed by gun violence every year. Women in Texas are 24[%] more likely to be murdered with a gun than in other states,” according to O’Rourke. Four mass shootings have occurred in this state in the past ten years.
“Instead of working with Texans to address these challenges, Governor Abbott ignored the advise of law enforcement when he signed the dangerous permitless carry law that makes it easy for criminals to carry a loaded gun in public without any background check, training, or permit.”
To prevent mass shootings, O’Rourke believes that no civilian should own an AR-15 or AK-47, that the private sale background check loophole must end, and an effective red flag law system needs to be activated. In addition, he thinks effective, safe storage and child access prevention laws and stronger domestic violence reporting laws would also act as a deterrent.
Under Gov. Abbott, Texas enacted laws that effectively made it impossible for a woman to seek and obtain an abortion. According to the Beto for Texas website, he believes that the government has the right to control women’s bodies and strip them of their personal autonomy.
O’Rourke says, “This ends when I’m governor. I will trust Texas women to make their own health care decisions.” He also plans to “fully fund family planning services and launch an aggressive initiative to combat this state’s maternal mortality crisis, including by expanding Medicaid eligibility to help more women see a doctor and by increasing Medicaid coverage for pregnant women to at least one year postpartum.”
O’Rourke Polling Ranking May Vary
Polling varies, as evidenced in the 2016 Presidential Election when polls seemingly overstated Hillary Clinton’s projected win. This happens because “different polling organizations conduct their surveys in quite a different way,” Pew Research Center reported. Based on that information, O’Rourke’s ascension last month, according to UT Politics Project, and other organizations’ rankings could be significantly dissimilar.
While polling is a helpful and encouraging tool for voters to learn more about what their neighbors think, it is an even stronger weapon for the candidate and their opponent. As a result, polling organization researchers might inadvertently lean their questions toward their favored candidate.
The only way to know what a candidate thinks is to listen to what they have to say, ask others what they believe and why, and research before casting a ballot for the next elected official.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Texas Tribune: Gov. Greg Abbott’s lead over Beto O’Rourke narrows to 6 points, poll finds; by Cecilia Lenzen
Beto for Texas: About Beto; Issues: Gun Safety; Reproductive Rights
Mirage News: Majority of Texans Oppose Banning Abortion; Texans Saying State Is on Wrong Track Reaches Historic High
Pew Research Center: Key things to know about election polling in the United States; by Courtney Kennedy
The Texas Politics Project: NEW UT/TEXAS POLITICS PROJECT POLL: SHARE OF TEXANS SAYING STATE IS ON THE WRONG TRACK REACHES NEW HIGH, WHILE MAJORITY STILL OPPOSE BANNING ABORTION; by Jim Henson and Joshua Blank