AUSTIN, Texas - On Wednesday, the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs released a new poll predicting how Texans will vote come November.
Results of the poll show that 49% of registered Texans surveyed will vote for incumbent Greg Abbott and 44% will vote for Beto O’Rourke in the gubernatorial race. The poll has a 2.9% margin of error.
"I think it's been pretty consistent across many surveys that Greg Abbott retains the advantage of about five percentage points, but he hasn't been able to grow that," said Mark Jones, a senior research fellow at the Hobby School of Public Affairs. "On the other hand, Beto O’Rourke, despite the Uvalde massacre and the Dobbs decision, has also not been able to reduce that gap."
Abbott has maintained his 5-point lead since the university’s January poll, despite some major events occurring in the last six months.
"O'Rourke has had three big gifts dropped in his lap," said Brian Smith, professor of political science at St. Edward's University. "The issue of gun control has reemerged, the issue of reproductive rights is now on the agenda…and then we've seen the summer get hot and the grid is back on the agenda."
However, Jones, one of the directors of the poll, noted that economic concerns might overshadow social concerns among Texans.
"In bad economic times, economic issues tend to outweigh more social issues," he said. "Those are issues that play to Abbott's strength more than Beto."
Smith noted that numbers could easily change.
"Greg Abbott cannot take this race for granted," said Smith. "He's still holding a lot of the cards, but there is enough support for Beto O’Rourke that if something bad were to happen against Abbott, a grid crash, anything catastrophic, then Abbott could be in trouble."
While the percentage gap has remained steady, Jones said results show voters are more sure of whom they’re voting for. That means candidates may have to focus less on winning new voters and more on getting their current supporters to the polls.
"This election is going to be more about turnout," he said.
Wednesday’s poll is one of three parts. A poll looking at Texans’ views on abortion will be released next week.