Politics & Government

New poll shows Abbott with 16-point lead over Davis

Republican Greg Abbott has a 16-point lead over Democrat Wendy Davis in the closing days of the race for governor, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Abbott has the support of 54 percent of likely voters to Davis’ 38 percent. Libertarian Kathie Glass has the support of 6 percent, and the Green Party’s Brandon Parmer got 2 percent.

“The drama of the outcome is not who wins but what the margin will be,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “Wendy Davis has not led in a single poll in this race.”

Among men, Abbott holds a lead of 61 percent to 32 percent. And he is ahead by 2 percentage points — 48 to 46 — among women.

Abbott leads among likely voters who dropped out of high school all the way up to those with postgraduate degrees.

Davis leads with voters who said they never attend church services, but Abbott leads with every group that did, no matter how often. With Anglo voters, he holds an advantage of 62 percent to 31 percent. Davis leads 75 to 19 among black voters and narrowly — 48 to 46 — among Hispanics.

“It should be a really interesting, contentious race,” said Daron Shaw, a government professor at UT Austin and co-director of the poll. “And yet, it doesn’t seem to have penetrated the public consciousness. Certainly, nothing down ballot has.”

Most of the statewide races are not as close as this one, the poll found. And Republicans hold the lead in each.

• Republican Dan Patrick has a comfortable lead of 52 percent to 35 percent over Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in the race for lieutenant governor. Third-party candidates Robert D. Butler, a Libertarian, and Chandrakantha Courtney, a Green, have 9 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Voters’ opinions of the top four statewide candidates offer insight into the head-to-head numbers. They generally like Abbott, who gets favorable ratings from 47 percent of likely voters and unfavorable ratings from 34 percent. At the extremes, 23 percent give him “very favorable” marks, and the same number say they have a “very unfavorable” view.

Davis has favorable rankings from 40 percent of likely voters, and 47 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion of her. While 21 percent are very favorably disposed toward her, 36 percent say they have a very unfavorable impression.

The lieutenant governor candidates are less-known and relatively well-liked by those who have opinions of them. Patrick gets favorable marks from 36 percent and unfavorable marks from 22 percent. For Van de Putte, it’s 27 percent favorable and 19 percent unfavorable.

While 20 percent say they have no opinion of Patrick or don’t know of him, 33 percent say the same about Van de Putte. Fifty-four percent of likely voters say they are neither favorably nor unfavorably disposed toward Van de Putte.

• U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican seeking re-election, polled well ahead of his opponents, with 57 percent saying they will support him. Democrat David Alameel has the support of 31 percent of respondents, followed by Rebecca Paddock, a Libertarian, at 7 percent, and Emily “SpicyBrown” Sanchez from the Green Party at 5 percent.

• In the race for attorney general, Republican Ken Paxton has 54 percent to Democrat Sam Houston’s 34 percent, Libertarian Jamie Balagia’s 8 percent and Green Jamar Osborne’s 4 percent.

• State Sen. Glenn Hegar, a Republican, is 15 points ahead of Democrat Mike Collier, a Houston accountant, in the race for comptroller. Hegar has 49 percent to Collier’s 34 percent. Ben Sanders, a Libertarian, has 11 percent, and Deb Shafto of the Green Party has 6 percent.

• George P. Bush, whose famous political name scared other Republicans out of the primary for land commissioner, holds an 18-point lead over Democrat John Cook, a former El Paso mayor. He had 50 percent and Cook had 32 percent, followed by Justin Knight, a Libertarian, at 10 percent, and Valerie Alessi, a Green, at 7 percent.

• The contest for agriculture commissioner almost sounds close by comparison, with Republican Sid Miller, a state representative, at 47 percent, and Democrat Jim Hogan, a political newcomer who has not actively campaigned, at 35 percent. David “Rocky” Palmquist, a Libertarian, and Kenneth Kendrick from the Green Party each got 9 percent.

• With 48 percent, Republican Ryan Sitton leads the race for an open seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, followed by Democrat Steve Brown at 34 percent, Libertarian Mark Miller at 10 percent and Green Martina Salinas at 9 percent.

Minor-party candidates were polling stronger than expected across the board, but such candidates often fare better in hypothetical matchups than on Election Day, Henson said.

“Voters who are considering a vote for a third party are willing to express this interest in response to poll questions but often much less willing to actually vote for third-party candidates once they are in the voting booth,” he said. “We saw this in 2010, when Libertarian candidates polled at levels similar to those in this most recent UT/Trib poll, then performed 5 to 6 percentage points below their poll numbers just a few weeks later.”

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 10 to Oct. 19 and has an overall margin of error of 2.83 percentage points. Among likely voters in the head-to-head races, the margin of error is 3.33 percentage points.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram