Republican Greg Abbott has a comfortable lead in the Texas governor’s race, according to a just-released poll. In fact, Mr. Abbott’s margin is so wide over both primary and general-election opponents that it raises again the question of why he thought that campaigning with shock rocker/political provocateur Ted Nugent earlier this month was a good idea.
Mr. Nugent may light enthusiasm in the party’s conservative base, particularly among gun rights activists. But his over-the-top insults fire up Democrats as much as Republicans and could give Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis a subject with which to deflect attention from her own political missteps.
The new University of Texas/Texas Tribune survey finished gathering data on Feb. 17, just prior to the Abbott-Nugent appearances.
According to the survey Abbott, Texas' attorney general, is the overwhelming favorite to capture the March GOP gubernatorial primary. He’s the choice of 90 percent of likely Republican voters in the poll. The second-place Republican, media personality Miriam Martinez, is way, way back with only 5 percent support.
In a potential general election matchup with state Senator Davis, Abbott leads by 11 percentage points, according to the UT poll. He’s the choice of 47 percent of respondents, while Davis gets 36 percent.
That’s a jump from October, when the same pollsters found Abbott only six points up.
If there’s any silver lining for the likely Democratic candidate, it is that a healthy chunk of Texans, 17 percent, say they have yet to make up their minds as to their gubernatorial choice.
But Abbott enjoys higher favorable ratings among state voters than does Davis. Forty-five percent of respondents said they have a somewhat or very favorable opinion of Abbott; the comparable number for Davis is 36 percent.
Davis’s corresponding unfavorable ratings were higher.
Even though Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky has warned Texas Republicans that their state may turn blue if they don’t change, that’s not happening yet. In the University of Texas/Texas Tribune survey, 45 percent of respondents said they would vote in the Republican primary, and only 32 percent said they would vote in the Democratic primary.
That result points to the partisan leaning that makes any Democratic governor hopeful face an uphill climb.
As always, we’d caution that this is just one poll. But the RealClearPolitics rolling average of major surveys puts Abbott on top by 11.3 percent, about the same margin.