TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A UT Austin-Texas Politics Project poll released Oct. 21 shows Republican Governor Greg Abbott with an 11-percentage point lead over Democrat Beto O'Rourke, 54% to 43%.
In a re-match from 2018, Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick leads Democrat Mike Collier by 15-percentage points, 51% to 36%, and Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton has a 14-percentage point lead over Democrat Rochelle Garza, 51% to 37%.
Dr. Joshua Blank, research director for the Texas Politics Project said Friday, "It feels like a pretty normal Texas election in a lot of ways given the fact that, and part of that is to say, it's not as though we're seeing dramatic shifts in the electorate that would make you think this is going to be something different or off the trend line or unusual."
The poll shows President Biden has a 39% approval rating, while 52% disapprove.
Dallas County's Republican Party Chair, Jennifer Stoddard Hajdu said Friday they have campaigned hard on the issues voters are most concerned about.
"People are worried about inflation, they're worried about going to the grocery store, gas, they're worried about crime and there's just not a message from the Democrats that satisfies those concerns with those issues," Hajdu said.
Blank said, "I think ultimately the national storyline has won out over the local storyline. I think you see that all over the polling in a lot of ways."
After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, people in Dallas took to the streets to oppose the decision and the new state law which bans most abortions with the exception to save the mother's life.
Texas Democrats have focused their efforts on reproductive rights and Dallas County's Democratic Party Chair Kristy Noble said Friday the polls don't reflect the opportunity their party has.
"There's a bubbling underneath the surface because of the Dobbs decision, because of what we're seeing as rights being taken away specifically here in Texas," Noble said. "I believe there's a story under the surface that isn't being told, but I think will be told on election day."
Blank said the abortion issue was already baked-in and considered by voters.
"For most people, they've been voting with their abortion politics all along and this just becomes incorporated in the environment, which really means the chance for a seismic shift is really limited when you consider it that way," Blank said.
This and other polls have shown a majority of Texans said they want to see less strict abortion laws and more strict gun control laws in Texas, which is what Democrats have been pushing.
Blank said, "The issue is the Democrats have and continue to have a hard time mobilizing those voters the same rates as Republicans in a state where there are more Republican voters than Democratic voters."
Collier has often said, "Fix the Damn Grid."
Blank said, "I think the goal for a candidate like Collier was to saddle Patrick and Republicans with these failures. The issue is that it just hasn't worked as that issue has receded from the front of voters' minds and more prescient concerns like inflation and the border in many cases have really come to the forefront."
For his part, Patrick has spent the fall on a bus tour through rural areas in Texas.
Blank said, "Ultimately, what that tells me is that he's been looking at this race and think it's pretty comfortable."
In the Attorney General's race, Paxton's lead over Garza comes after he won a bruising primary fight against three well-funded challengers with statewide name recognition who sharply criticized his legal troubles.
Paxton faces a trial on state felony fraud charges seven years after he was indicted.
He also is reportedly under investigation by the FBI after various top officials he hired at the Attorney General's Office came forward to publicly accuse him of bribery.
Paxton has pleaded not guilty on the fraud charges and repeatedly denied any wrongdoing involving the bribery accusations.
Blank said, "Voters have already voted for Ken Paxton while he's under indictment and they've re-elected him. Maybe the continued power of that issue may be dwindling unless there's a dramatic advancement in any of the legal cases."
He also cited Paxton's defense of President Donald Trump before many other Republicans did.
As for Democrat Rochelle Garza, Blank said, "She faces the same challenge all Democrats face in Texas which is she started this race completely unknown to the electorate. I think polling shows she's made some pretty good progress but ultimately like all Democrats in Texas, it's a very big state, very expensive to campaign in and it's really hard to break through."
Both of the party chairs in Dallas County said Friday they are executing their plans to get out the vote.
Jennifer Stoddard Hajdu, the Republican Party Chair said, "I don't see complacency at all on the part of Republicans. I'm not concerned about that at all because we've never seen more enthusiasm in Dallas County with our Republican party than we have in the last six to seven weeks."
Kristy Noble, the Democratic Party Chair said, "From our perspective, if we as Democrats, strong Democrats, low propensity Democrats who don't vote as often as we would like them to, we turn out, we run the table."
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