Texas gubernatorial race narrows amid gun politics, abortion debate

(Bloomberg) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s lead over his Democratic challenger ahead of the November election has narrowed amid contentious debate over gun control and abortion policy in the Lone Star State.

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About 45% of registered voters favor electing Republican Abbott to a third term, while 39% support his Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, according to a University of Texas and Texas Politics Project poll released Wednesday. . The results point to a tighter gubernatorial race than just two months ago, when a similar poll showed Abbott with an 11-point lead.

The shift suggests recent events like the state’s near total ban on abortion, even before Roe v. Wade from being overturned by the Supreme Court, and the Uvalde school shooting sparked more support for O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso.

“I’m not ready to say this is a tie race, or that Beto is no longer the underdog,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project. “But certainly the change in the environment has been, in strictly political terms, helpful to Beto O’Rourke.”

The poll also showed that most Texans do not support the policies that state Republicans prioritized during last year’s legislative session. Only 15% of Texans agree that abortion should never be allowed, a position at odds with a bill passed last year that will ban the procedure once the Supreme Court ruling takes effect.

Additionally, a majority of Texans expressed support for gun control measures like “red flag laws” or expanded background checks. The investigation came after the Uvalde shooting in May, which killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers, and reignited the debate about easy access to powerful firearms.

Despite polls suggesting a tighter race between Abbott and O’Rourke, the Democratic nominee still has a lot to overcome. Democrats nationwide may be at a disadvantage due to President Joe Biden’s declining popularity amid high inflation and recession fears. And O’Rourke is running in a Republican stronghold, with no Democrat having been elected to a statewide position since 1994.

The poll polled 1,200 registered voters in Texas from June 16 to June 24 and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.89 percentage points.

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