Gov. Greg Abbott leads Beto O'Rourke by 11 points, new poll shows

Governor Greg Abbott, earlier this week, took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a highway expansion project in San Antonio. The event was symbolic of his bid for re-election. 

A new poll from the UT/Texas Politics Project has Abbott clearly in the driver seat. His lead over Democrat rival Beto O’Rourke is now at 11 points, 54% to 43%.

"We are always mindful that these are estimates not measurements of what is actually happening, but we are pretty confident this is a pretty good estimate of where this race was between Oct. 7-17," said Jim Henson who leads the Texas Politics Project

The poll is the Project’s 52nd and started with 1,200 people. It was then narrowed down to just under 900.

"In the overall sample it was about 2 to 3% more Republicans than Democrats. When we filtered that down to Likely Voters that goes up to a gap of 7 or 8 points. That’s a pretty good estimation of where partisanship is in Texas. With a smattering of about 8% Independents," said Henson.

Henson noted how the current political snapshot differs from the close race some Democrats were claiming just last week. And what some were predicting a few months ago.

"We spent the summer talking about how much things were changing, discussions of Abortions. Discussions of Gun Violence, intimations of a big shift on the ground. We are just not seeing that. What we are seeing in many ways is a return to the things that are very familiar," said Henson.

Fuel prices., the economy and border security remain the top issues. Those concerns solidified even more because polling has now moved from asking Registered Voters- to Likely Voters.

"And that’s going to be your Republican base here in Texas much more so than your casual Democratic voter," said Brian Smith with St Edwards University.

Smith also pointed out how Republican candidates have increased their leads in the other statewide races. That, according to Smith, is the result of the Democrats not having a bottom up strategy.

"There isn’t as much money being thrown around, the issues are not as visible, so people are going to rely on Party identification and the candidates they know better. And here in Texas the Democrats are still winning elections, in the City level, the County level and the congressional districts, but they've never been able to break out of that, and now we are looking at 2 decades of failure," said Smith.

A November surprise is still possible. But Smith said that would have to be done without independent and crossover votes from moderate republicans because there are just not enough of them. 

The long shot, according to smith, is some type major late breaking scandal so big it would have to overshadow the economy.