Newly released polling from Texas shows that the state’s race for governor may be closer than what other surveys from the past few weeks have suggested, with Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke just a few points behind incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
According to a Beacon Research poll published this week, 48 percent of registered voters in Texas say they plan to vote for Abbott, while 45 percent say they are going to back O’Rourke, a former U.S. congressman who came within 2.6 points of defeating Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in a senatorial race four years ago.
Among those who say they’re likely to vote — a slightly smaller number of voters than the number who are registered — Abbott leads by 48 percent, while O’Rourke has the support of 46 percent of respondents. And among those who say they’re “extremely motivated to vote,” the point differential between the two candidates is just 1 point.
The close margins between the two candidates in all three scenarios suggest that the race is a statistical tie, and that turnout will be key in determining who will win.
Among independents in the poll, O’Rourke fared better than his Republican counterpart, winning the support of voters who are unaligned with either political party by a margin of 47 percent to 41 percent.
It’s unknown whether the poll should be viewed as an outlier or as representative of where things are heading in the final weeks of the campaign. Since the start of October, Abbott has had an average lead in the polls of around 8 to 9 points over O’Rourke.
The new poll — if it is indeed a sign of things to come — suggests that a small yet significant number of voters in Texas have shifted their opinions. There is reason to believe the veracity of the new data, as Beacon Research receives a high rating from statistics website FiveThirtyEight.
“This is the closest the race has been since O’Rourke announced his candidacy,” said podcast host and frequent political commentator Dash Dobrofsky.
Democrats have aimed to win Texas in recent years, an outcome some have previously deemed unfathomable. O’Rourke’s loss in 2018 showed that Democrats could come within striking distance of winning statewide contests, and in 2020, President Joe Biden came within 5.6 points of winning the state, the smallest loss margin among Democratic candidates in Texas since 1996.