The polls giveth, and the polls taketh away.
PPP’s newest poll of next year’s race for Governor of Texas finds Republican Greg Abbott expanding his lead over Democrat Wendy Davis. Abbott now has a 15 point advantage at 50/35. That’s up a good amount from our last poll, conducted the week of Davis’ famous filibuster, when Abbott led just 48/40. But it’s pretty comparable to what we found in January when he had a 46/34 lead.
As Davis has become better known to Texans, her negatives have risen. 36% of voters have a favorable opinion of her to 42% with an unfavorable one. In June it was a positive 39/29 spread, meaning she’s dropped a net 16 points since then. Voters are kind of indifferent toward Abbott, with 35% rating him favorably, 32% unfavorably, and 33% not having an opinion either way. For the most part though if you’re a Republican in Texas who voters don’t hate, you’re going to be in pretty decent shape.
For a Democrat to win in Texas they need to do 2 things: win independents by a decent sized margin, and get double digit crossover support from Republicans. Right now Davis is falling short on both of those fronts. With independents she’s managing only a tie at 44%. And she’s winning over only 6% of Republicans, far less than the share of Democrats who say right now that they lean toward Abbott. Of course she has a year to try to change that.
There is some good news for Davis within the poll. Voters narrowly oppose the abortion law that put her in the spotlight, 40/41, including 37/48 opposition among independent voters. Concern that she may have difficulty in the election because she’s seen as too liberal on that particular issue may not be warranted.
We also looked at the race for Lieutenant Governor on this poll, and that one is within single digits. Incumbent Republican David Dewhurst is at 46% to 37% for potential Democratic challenger Leticia Van de Putte.
Full poll results are here, and as noted when I discussed the UT/TT poll that showed a five-point race, PPP previously had Abbott over Davis 48-40 in July, shortly after the famous filibuster, and Abbott over Davis 46-34 in January. As far as this poll goes, there are two things that stand out to me:
- In PPP’s sample, Abbott does much better among Dems than Davis does among Rs. Davis leads among Dems 65-18, while Abbott leads among Rs 81-6. The numbers for Van de Putte versus Dewhurst are 71-11 for VdP among Ds, 80-7 for the Dew among Rs. I see this as an outlier, because I just don’t see Davis losing such a big chunk of Democratic support.
- Along similar lines, Abbott actually leads Davis among Hispanics, 43-38, while VdP leads Dew 51-28. Even more weird, when they polled a three-way race with Medina, Abbott lost Hispanic support while Davis gained it – she led 44-40, with Medina getting 10 percent. Again, this says to me this is a strange sample, because I can’t think of a good reason for that. I know Abbott is wooing Latino voters, mostly with a message that is likely to turn them off, but it is not something Davis can ignore or take for granted. Still, I see this as basically small sample size weirdness.
Anyway. The one thing I do know is that it cannot be the case that both PPP and UT/TT are right. They could both be wrong, but at least one of them must be. What’s even more odd about all this is that PPP tends to have a Democratic lean while the UT/TT polls tend to underestimate Democratic support. If the numbers for each had been reversed, we would have all shrugged it off as stuff we’d seen before. Let’s just let this be a lesson for now in not getting too excited or depressed by a single poll result. Texpatriate has more.