Polling Trends in the Abbott-Davis Race

*Updated November 4 to reflect most recent polling.

With the start of early voting and Election Day drawing near, it's worth looking at the trajectory of the publicly available (non-campaign) polls on the Texas Governor's race over the course of the Summer and Fall. Each of the tables below shows results for likely voters as defined by those individual surveys. A few important characteristics of the overall body of polling should make themselves apparent with a cursory inspection:

  1. Abbott has lead in every statewide poll by double digits in all but one (in which he lead by 9). The average lead for Abbott has been 13.87 points.
  2. Abbott has a substantial lead among Texas men, and Davis appears to be closing the gap with Texas women, which would represent an improvement on Bill White's performance in 2010.
  3. Hispanics are notoriously hard to reach in polling, regardless of method. This has played out in the variance of the results seen in Table 2, but there are two very important points to remember about Hispanic sub-sample estimates: one, they are subject to extremely high margins of error (roughly +/-8 percentage points depending on one's assumptions); and two, swings between differing estimates don't actually produce substantially different election outcomes because despite the rapid growth rate of the Hispanic population in Texas, they still make up a small proportion of the electorate – especially in a midterm election. You can compare the results from Table 2 to the results based on 2010 exit polling in Table 3.  If you're considering the potential growth of the Hispanic share of the electorate, it grew from 15 percent to 17 percent between 2006 and 2010.
  4. Finally, the racial composition of the 2014 electorate, and the relative vote propensities of Hispanics in particular, is an open question, and one that we'll all be interested in learning more about after Election Day upon the release of exit polling information. But good public polling doesn't begin with assumptions about what the electorate is going to look like or how a certain racial/ethnic group "should" vote. Table 4 and Table 5 show the demographic compositions from 2010, and then from the public polling since June 2014.
TABLE 1: Gubernatorial Polling Since June 2014**
Poll Date Abbot Vote Share Davis Vote Share Difference MOE
UT/Texas Tribune June 2014 53% 34% Abbott +19 +/-3.45%
YouGov/The Upshot July 2014 50% 34% Abbott +16 +/-1.52%*
Rasmussen August 2014 48% 40% Abbott +8  +/-3.50%
YouGov/The Upshot August-September 2014 54% 36% Abbott +18 +/-1.52%*
Texas Lyceum September 2014 49% 40% Abbott +9  +/-3.80%
Rasmussen October 2014 51% 40% Abbott +11 +/-3.50%
YouGov/The Upshot September-October 2014 54% 40% Abbott +14 +/-1.52%*
UT/Texas Tribune October 2014 54% 38% Abbott +16 +/-2.83%
YouGov/The Upshot October 2014 57% 37% Abbott +20 +/-1.52%*

*This MOE was self-calculated from the provided sample size, though the true margin of error is higher due to the weighting process.

**These results don't include the KHOU Poll as we could not find cross-tab information. If someone has it and would like to email it to us, we would gladly include those results.

TABLE 2: Gubernatorial Polling Key Demographic Breakdowns
Poll Date Men Women Whites Blacks Hispanics
UT/Texas Tribune June 2014 Abbott +17 Abbott +20 Abbott +37 Davis +60 Davis +4
YouGov/The Upshot July 2014 Abbott +28 Abbott +12 Abbott +38 Davis +32 Davis +8
Rasmussen August 2014 Abbott +17 Even Abbott +34 Davis +70 Davis +36
YouGov/The Upshot August-September 2014 Abbott +34 Abbott +1 Abbott +29 Davis +70 Davis +9
Texas Lyceum September 2014 Abbott +17 Abbott +2 Abbott +35 Davis +80 Davis +36
Rasmussen October 2014 Abbott +11 Abbott +11 Abbott +36 Davis +87 Davis +24
YouGov/The Upshot September-October 2014 Abbott +31 Davis +5 Abbott +37 Davis +76 Davis +13
UT/Texas Tribune October 2014 Abbott +29 Abbott +2 Abbott +31 Davis +57 Davis +2
YouGov/The Upshot October 2014 Abbott +28 Abbott +12 Abbott +45 Davis +74 Davis +6

 

TABLE 3: 2010 Texas Gubernatorial Election Exit Polling, Racial Vote
  Men Women White Black Hispanic Asian Other
Rick Perry 57% 53% 69% 11% 38% N/A N/A
Bill White 40% 45% 29% 88% 61% N/A N/A
Difference Perry +17 Perry +8 Perry +40 White +77 White +23 N/A N/A

 

TABLE 4: 2010 Texas Gubernatorial Election Exit Polling, Racial Composition
White Black Hispanic Asian Other
67% 13% 17% 1% 2%

 

TABLE 5: Racial/Ethnic Breakdown of Likely Voters for Recent Statewide Gubernatorial Polls
Poll White Black Hispanic Other Ballot Result
2010 Exit Polls 67% 13% 17% 3% Perry +13
UT/Texas Tribune (June 2014) 66% 11% 17% 5% Abbott +19
YouGov/The Upshot (July 2014) NA NA NA NA  
Rasmussen (Aug. 2014) 66% 11% 18% 5% Abbott +8
YouGov/The Upshot (Aug.-Sep. 2014) 68% 12% 16% 4% Abbott +18
Texas Lyceum (Sep. 2014) 66% 9% 19% 6% Abbott +9
Rasmussen (Oct. 2014) 65% 11% 18% 5% Abbott +11
YouGov/The Upshot (Sep.-Oct. 2014) 65% 11% 20% 3% Abbott +14
UT/Texas Tribune (Oct. 2014) 68% 11% 16% 4% Abbott +16
YouGov/The Upshot (Oct. 2014) 65% 12% 19% 4% Abbott +20

The topline results of these polls, with slight variations, can be seen in graphic form at the HuffPost Pollster page and the Real Clear Politics Polling page for the Texas Governor's race. Both convey a good sense of the trajectory of polling in the race.

Keywords: 2014 election, polling