Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s lead over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke has shrunk to just six percentage points, according to a new poll, as the race appears to be tightening in the wake of a mass shooting in the state.
“As of this moment, this (governor’s) race is shaping up to be more competitive than any race we’ve seen this century,” said pollster Jim Henson of the Texas Politics Project, which released the findings on Tuesday.
The Lone Star State hasn’t seen a Democratic governor in nearly 30 years.
The new poll shows Abbott with 45% of the vote and O’Rourke with 39%. Another 10% were undecided or hadn’t given the race enough thought.
Abbott led O’Rourke by 11 points in April when the same group polled voters.
In between the two polls, the state experienced the horrifying May 24 mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas where 19 elementary school children and two teachers were killed.
The latest poll was also conducted between June 16 and 24, when Texas voters knew about the probability the US Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Voter’s attitudes about abortion and the shooting in Uvalde are reflected in the poll, said Henson. But he cautioned that the current attitudes among voters may not be the same by election day.
“There is movement in the race and there will continue to be movement in the race,” said Henson, pointing to 10% of voters saying they were undecided.
“A lot of Texans are not paying attention to the governor’s race yet. Independents will continue to move throughout the October polling.”
“If the focus remains on issued like gun control and abortion, it will favor O’Rourke,” Henson predicts. “It’s a more competitive environment for Republicans if border security is the focus.”