With in-person early voting set to begin in Texas on October 24, the latest University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll finds Gov. Greg Abbott leading Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke in the gubernatorial race, 54%-43%, among Texans likely to vote in the 2022 election. While more than half of Republican voters say immigration and border security is the most important issue area informing their vote, Democratic voters’ attention is divided among a list of several issues, topped by abortion.
The poll surveyed 1,200 self-declared registered voters using the internet from October 7-17 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.83 for the full sample. From among this overall sample, likely voters were defined as those respondents who indicated that they have voted in every election in the past 2-3 years; or those respondents who rated their likelihood to vote in the November elections on a 10-point scale as a 9 or a 10. This likely voter screen yielded a pool of 883 likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 3.3% for the full likely voter sample.
Beyond the two major party candidates, Green Party Candidate Delilah Barrios and the Libertarian Party’s Mark Tippets each earned 1% support while 2% preferred an unspecified “someone else.”
Voters’ assessments of which issues are most important to their vote in this year’s election suggests that the issues promoted by Gov. Abbott and other Republican candidates are foremost in Texas voters’ minds with in-person early voting starting next week.
When asked to evaluate the importance of 11 issue areas that have arisen in the 2022 campaigns, then to choose which is most important to their vote, three issue areas were selected by more than 10% of voters: immigration/border security (32%), the state economy (14%), and abortion (13%). Among Republicans, immigration and border security dominated priorities (60%), followed by the state economy (18%). No other issue was prioritized by more than 4% of the remaining GOP likely voters.
Democratic voters’ priorities were more dispersed, with four issues being cited as most important by 10% or more: the largest share of Democrats is focused on abortion (26%), followed by gun violence (16%), the environment/climate change (13%), and healthcare (10%).
The results among likely voters found Republican candidates maintaining wide leads in the five other major races for statewide office. In all of the trial ballots, including for governor, undecided, but likely, voters were asked whom they would choose if forced to make a decision. All results for the trial ballots report the results of the initial question combined with this “forced” response. (The poll summary reports the share of voters who expressed no preference in the initial question in each race.)
Lt. Governor. Incumbent Dan Patrick led Democratic challenger Mike Collier, 51%-36%, in their rematch of the 2018 race.
Attorney General. Incumbent Republican Ken Paxton leads Democrat Rochelle Garza 51%-37%.
Comptroller of Public Accounts. Two-term incumbent Republican Glenn Hegar leads Democrat Janet Dudding 47%-35%.
Agriculture Commissioner. Incumbent Sid Miller leads Democrat Susan Hayes 51%-39%.
Land Commissioner. Republican State Senator Dawn Buckingham leads Democrat Jay Kelberg 47%-36%.
The generic ballots for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Texas legislature also revealed continuing advantages for Republican candidates: Republicans lead 53%-44% in the generic ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives, and 53%-42% for the Texas legislature.
As with all previous polls in the series, detailed methodological information is available in the summary document, including question wording and order, as well as demographic information for the weighted sample. Our data archive page contains all documents related to the poll, including data files. Any comparisons with past UT/Texas Politics Project trial ballot and election-related results should take into account the switch from registered to likely voters in the October poll. We’ve noted where the results report likely and registered voters below and in the poll summary document. (You can read about the difference between the two sampling approaches in a recent post by Texas Politics Project research director Joshua Blank.)
While the most recent UT/Texas Politics Project Poll focused on the 2022 election, the survey also explored Texans’ views on a variety of policy areas. See below for more extensive discussion of the following key findings (reported for the entire sample of 1200 self-reported registered voters (MOE +/- 2.83%).
- Busing migrants. 54% support the state’s policy of paying to bus international migrants awaiting asylum hearings to other parts of the country, while 35% were opposed.
- State spending on border security. 30% of Texans say the state spends too much on border security while a nearly equal share, 30%, composed mainly of a majority of Republicans, 88%, say that the state spends too little on border security. About a quarter, 24%, say the state spends about the right amount, while 17% expressed no opinion.
- Texas abortion laws. Half of Texans say abortion laws in Texas should be made “less strict”, while 25% say they should be left as they are now, and 18% say they should be more strict.
- Gun control laws. 55% of Texans say gun control laws should be made more strict, the highest share saying so over 11 polls conducted since 2015. In the latest poll, 24% say gun laws should be left as they are, and 15% say they should be less strict.
- Safety. Amidst the rise of crime as a campaign issue nationally and in Texas, a third (33%) of Texans report feeling “very safe” in the areas where they live, the lowest share saying so since the question was first included in Texas Politics Project polling in October 2020; more than half (53%) reported feeling “somewhat safe; 8% reported feeling “somewhat unsafe” and only 3% report feeling “very unsafe”.
- Police spending. Asked about spending on policing in their area, 48% percent said spending should be increased “a little” (29%) or “a lot” (19%). Only 12% thought spending should be decreased (split evenly between “a little” and “a lot”), and 29% thought police spending should “stay about the same.
- K-12 education. Asked to rate the quality of K-12 public education in Texas, 6% rated it excellent, 40% good, 33% not very good, and 11% terrible; 9% had no opinion.
- Voting rules. Asked whether rules for voting in Texas should be made more strict, less strict, or left as they are now, stark partisan differences on voting and elections remained apparent. Overall, 32% said these laws should be more strict, 25% less strict, and 34% said they should be left as they are. A plurality of Democrats, 49%, said “less strict,” while an identical share of Republicans said “more strict.”
- Texans’ economic situation. 49% report that their family's economic situation is worse than a year ago, while only 13% say they are better off. The share reporting being “better off” than a year ago is the worst reading since the inception of the poll in 2008.
- Direction of the state. Exactly half of Texans say the state is on the wrong track, down from a record-high 59% in June, but the fourth poll in a row beginning in April 2022 that finds 50% or more concerned about the direction of the state. A little more than a third, 37%, said the state was headed in the right direction.
- Direction of the country. While readings of the state’s direction have reached historical lows, Texans’ assessments of the direction of the U.S. are significantly worse. Only 21% say the country is headed in the right direction, while 69% say it’s on the wrong track, 19 percentage points worse than the wrong-track responses for Texas.
Use the linked list below to jump to results in specific areas with more exploration of key group attitudes and illustrative graphics of results in key areas covered by the poll.
(All of the results cited in this section are among the likely voter sample of 883 respondents. The overall margin of error for the overall sample is 3.3%, with larger margins of error for subgroups.)
In a sign of the limited potential for crossover voting in the governor’s race, both candidates have locked down the bulk of their partisans: 95% of Republicans prefer Abbott, with only 3% intending to cross over to vote for O’Rourke. A statistically identical 94% of Democrats prefer O’Rourke, with only 4% preferring Abbott.
Amidst an increasingly negative campaign, majorities of both candidates’ supporters say that their vote is in affirmative support of either Abbott or O’Rourke, as opposed to a vote against the other candidate.
|I want Greg Abbott to be elected governor||63%|
|I don't want Beto O'Rourke to be elected governor||37%|
|I want Beto O'Rourke to be elected governor||74%|
|I don't want Greg Abbott to be elected governor||26%|
Among independents, who make up 8% of the likely voter pool, Abbott leads 60%-29%. (Per our usual practice, this group included only “true independents,” with partisan “leaners” included with the respective Democratic and Republican totals in all reporting.)
As noted in a recent Texas Politics Project analysis, the lack of potential for crossover voting has led campaigns and political observers to focus on key groups in the electorate, most of which display mixed patterns of partisan allegiance. The table below summarizes trial ballot results among key electoral groups:
- Urban: O’Rourke 55%, Abbott 40%
- Rural: Abbott 72%, O’Rourke 25%
- Suburban: Abbott 54%, O’Rourke 43%
- Moderates: O’Rourke 51%, Abbott 38%
- Men: Abbott 59%, O’Rourke 38%
- Women: Abbott 49%, O’Rourke 47%
- White/Anglo: Abbott 64%, O’Rourke 32%
- Hispanic: O’Rourke 48%, Abbott 48%
- Black: O’Rourke 86%, Abbott 11%
Texas voters’ favorability ratings of the two major party candidates fall largely along partisan lines, and convey the strong effects of negative partisanship. Both candidates earned broadly positive reviews from their own partisans, but much more intensely negative views from voters aligned with the opposing party.
The large majority of Republicans, 88%, express favorable views of Gov. Abbott, with 57% holding very favorable views and 31% somewhat favorable views. Republicans’ views of Beto O’Rourke are much more intensely negative: 85% hold unfavorable views, with a lopsided 81% holding very unfavorable views. A similar pattern is evident in views of Democrats, among whom 89% hold a favorable view of O’Rourke (63% very favorable, 26% somewhat favorable), amidst more intensely negative views of Abbott (81% very unfavorable, 4% somewhat unfavorable).
|Neither favorable nor unfavorable||2%||14%||5%|
|Don't know/No opinion||0%||0%||0%|
|Neither favorable nor unfavorable||3%||11%||3%|
|Don't know/No opinion||2%||0%||1%|
Among likely voters, Independents as a group are more favorably disposed toward Abbott than O’Rourke, though both are in net-negative territory, with intensity, such as it exists, expressed on the unfavorable end of the spectrum: Abbott is judged favorably by 43% of independents and unfavorably by 42% (23% very unfavorable). O’Rourke fares noticeably worse – 23% view him favorably, 57% unfavorably – 42% very unfavorably.
The survey asked which candidate voters trusted more to do a better job in each of 11 issue areas reflecting major themes of the 2022 campaign, then asked them to make a judgment about which issue area was most important to their vote. While the results in our August poll of registered voters found mixed results, within the likely voter pool, there was no issue area in which Texans clearly trusted O’Rourke to do a better job than Abbott. Abbott earned higher shares of trust than O’Rourke in 10 of the 11 issues, with the difference in their respective shares within the margin of error on only one issue (environment/climate change).
- Immigration / Border security: Abbott 55%, O'Rourke 36%
- The state economy: Abbott 53%, O'Rourke 37%
- Public safety: Abbott 53%, O'Rourke 39%
- Voting and elections: Abbott 51%, O'Rourke 40%
- Public Education: Abbott 49%, O'Rourke 42%
- Property Taxes: Abbott 48%, O'Rourke 39%
- Gun violence: Abbott 48%, O'Rourke 41%
- Health care: Abbott 48%, O'Rourke 42%
- The state's electric grid: Abbott 46%, O'Rourke 41%
- Abortion: Abbott 44%, O'Rourke 44%
- The environment/Climate: O'Rourke 43%, Abbott 40%
Following an assessment of the importance of each individual issue, the poll asked which of the 11 issues was most important to the respondent’s vote in the 2022 election. Three issue areas were selected by more than 10% of voters: “immigration/border security” (32%), the state economy (14%), and abortion (13%). Among Republicans, immigration and border security dominated Republican priorities (60%), followed (necessarily) at a distance by the state economy (18%) – no other issue was prioritized by more than 4% of the remaining GOP likely voters. Democratic priorities were more spread out, with four issues being cited as most important by 10% or more. Abortion topped the list (26%), followed by gun violence (16%), the environment/climate change (13%), and healthcare (10%). Independents’ priorities look more like those of Republicans than of Democrats: their top response was also “immigration/border security” (25%), followed by the state economy (21%), the only two items that reached double figures.
|Immigration / border||32%|
|Environment / climate change||6%|
|Voting & elections||5%|
|The state's electric grid||4%|
The rematch of the 2018 contest for Lieutenant Governor between two-term incumbent Dan Patrick and Democratic challenger Mike Collier found Patrick with a 15-point lead, 51%-36%, among likely voters. Libertarian Shanna Steele was the choice of 5% of voters, while “someone else” was the choice of 8%.
Among Democrats, 81% preferred Collier, while 90% of Republicans chose Patrick. Amidst speculation about the potential for crossover voting for Collier, 2% of Republicans chose Collier, 3% chose the Libertarian Steele, and 5% said they would be supporting someone else. By comparison, 4% of Democrats opted for Patrick, with 15% splitting their vote between Steele (4%) and someone else (11%). Among independents, the majority, 52%, support the incumbent lieutenant governor, with 19% saying they’ll be supporting Collier, 21% supporting Steele, and the remaining 8% someone else.
Among other key electoral groups:
- Urban: Collier 44%, Patrick 36%
- Rural: Patrick 72%, Collier 21%
- Suburban: Patrick 50%, Collier 37%
- Moderates: Collier 43%, Patrick 33%
- Men: Patrick 56%, Collier 32%
- Women: Collier 46%, Patrick 40%
- White/Anglo: Patrick 60%, Collier 29%
- Hispanic: Patrick 47%, Collier 40%
- Black: Collier 65*%, Patrick 10%
Incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton leads Democratic challenger, Rochelle Garza, 51%-37%. Libertarian Mark Ash was the choice of 4%, while 8% chose an unspecified “someone else.”
Among other groups:
- Urban: Garza 48%, Paxton 41%
- Rural: Paxton 72%, Garza 16%
- Suburban: Paxton 48%, Garza 40%
- Moderates: Garza 44%, Paxton 36%
- Men: Paxton 55%, Garza 33%
- Women: Paxton 46%, Garza 42%
- White/Anglo: Paxton 61%, Garza 30%
- Hispanic: Garza 45%, Paxton 43%
- Black: Garza 63%, Paxton 12%
Republican Glenn Hegar leads Democrat Janet Dudding 47%-35%, with 6% choosing the Libertarian candidate, and 12% choosing “someone else.”
|V. Alonzo Echevarria-Garza||6%|
|V. Alonzo Echevarria-Garza||8%||19%||3%|
Incumbent Sid Miller leads Democrat Susan Hayes 51%-39%, with the remaining 10% choosing “someone else.”
Republican State Senator Dawn Buckingham leads Democrat Jay Kleberg 47%-36%, with 6% choosing the Green Party candidate, and 12% “someone else.”
Respondents also provided favorability ratings for comptroller, land commissioner, and agricultural commissioner, which are included in the table below with favorabiliy ratings of other candidates as well as the current and most recent president.
With in-person voting about to commence in Texas, the poll finds most voters expecting problems to occur in the 2022 election. These expectations are widespread. Asked to evaluate the seriousness of eight possible problems in the 2022 election, at least a quarter and as many as half of voters thought every potential problem would be an “extremely serious” one. (These results are reported for the entire sample of registered voters, as these items probe attitudes about the conduct of elections rather than voting preferences.)
While these concerns were present among both Democrats and Republicans, the breadth and intensity of these concerns, and the issues on which these concerns were highest, displayed partisan differences. Democrats showed a lower level of concern overall compared to Republicans. About half or more of Democrats anticipated extremely or somewhat serious problems in six of the eight areas they were asked to assess.
The Republican baseline of expectations was higher than that of Democrats: 60% or more of Texas Republicans expected “extremely” or ‘somewhat” serious problems in seven of the eight areas of concern. The only one that didn’t reach that threshold was the second highest area of concern among Democrats – ”eligible voters being prevented from voting.” Among Democrats, 81% thought eligible voters being prevented from voting would be either an “extremely serious” problem (52%) or a “somewhat serious” one (29%). By contrast, less than half of Republicans (45%) thought this problem would be a serious one (26% extremely so, 29% somewhat).
In one area of agreement, large majorities of both parties expected “misinformation shared on social media” to be a serious problem – including 88% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans, with 48% and 59%, respectively, expecting the problem to be “extremely serious.”
|Extremely Serious||Somewhat Serious||Not Too Serious||Not Serious at All|
|People voting who are not eligible||35%||22%||16%||21%|
|People voting multiple times||35%||19%||17%||23%|
|Votes being counted accurately||39%||23%||16%||16%|
|Eligible voters being prevented from voting||36%||24%||13%||21%|
|Misinformation spread on social media||51%||27%||8%||8%|
|Timely reporting of election results||28%||32%||19%||12%|
|Administration of the election by local officials||25%||32%||19%||12%|
|Misconduct committed by partisan poll
In another indication of Texans’ negative expectations around the political system, more than half of those polled, 54%, said the expected more political violence in the U.S. in the future, while only 10% expected less, and 20% expected the same amount. The share expecting more violence decreased slightly from results in the August UT/TxPP Poll, when 58% expected more violence. As in the previous poll, there was little difference in responses among partisans.
Asked to identify the most important problem facing the state, one in three voters chose either immigration or border security. In the continuation of a pattern seen in virtually every Texas Politics Project poll over the last decade, 61% of Republicans said immigration or border security is the most important problem facing the state. Economic issues followed, though at a distance – 4% of Texas Republicans cited the overall economy, while 12% cited inflation.
Democrats were characteristically more divided in prioritizing problems facing the state. The plurality of Texas Democrats, 18%, cite political corruption and/or leadership as the state’s most important problem, followed by 12% who say abortion, and 11% each saying inflation or gun control/gun violence, respectively.
The state’s high-profile policy of busing international migrants awaiting asylum hearings to other parts of the country continued to earn positive reviews from a majority of Texans: 54% expressed support for the policy while 35% expressed opposition — nearly identical to August polling.
|Don't know/No opinion||11%|
Republicans remain overwhelmingly supportive of the busing policy, which Gov. Abbott has vocally promoted, with 88% expressing support, including 66% who expressed “strong support.” Most Democrats, 68%, oppose the initiative, including 58% who strongly oppose the busing policy; 18%, expressed support.
|Don't know/No opinion||14%||18%||5%|
Asked if “Texas spends too much, too little, or about the right amount on border security,” equal shares of Texans say that the state spends too much (30%) or too little (29%), while the remaining 24% say that the state spends “about the right amount.”
|About the right amount||24%|
|Don't know/No opinion||17%|
|About the right amount||17%||16%||33%|
|Don't know/No opinion||20%||20%||11%|
Asked whether Texas’ increasing racial and ethnic diversity is a cause for optimism or a cause for concern, 39% view these changes as a cause for optimism and 32% as a cause for concern; with 29% expressing no opinion. A majority of Democrats, 59%, said that increasing diversity was a cause for optimism (27% said it was a cause for concern), Republicans were more evenly divided: the plurality, 41%, expressed no view about these demographic changes, while 37% said they were a cause for concern, and 22% said they were a cause for optimism.
|Left as they are now||25%|
|Don't know/No opinion||8%|
A majority of Texans, 50%, say that abortion laws in Texas should be made “less strict,” 25% say they should be left as they are now, and only 18% say they should be more strict. This represented the largest share of voters saying that Texas’ abortion laws should be less strict in seven surveys in which the item was asked, first in 2013 — as well as the smallest share saying the laws should be more strict.
A large majority of Democrats, 78%, favor loosening Texas’ abortion laws. The poll found less consensus on Texas abortion laws among Republicans, with nearly equal shares prefering that the laws be made “more strict” (25%) compared to “less strict” (26%), but the plurality, 42%, in favor of leaving current laws – among the strictest in the nation following actions taken by the legisature in 2021 and the subequent overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court earlier this year – unchanged.
|Left as they are now||6%||33%||42%|
|Don't know/No opinion||6%||16%||7%|
Despite the recent attention paid to the abortion issue in the wake of the Dobbs decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, only 13% of likely voters said that abortion will be the most important factor in their 2022 vote choice – though abortion is the top issue among Democrats at 26%.
|Not very important||4%||14%||20%|
|Not important at all||2%||34%||18%|
|Don't know/No opinion||1%||1%||2%|
|Don't know/No opinion||4%|
A majority of Texas voters, 55%, said that current gun laws should be made more strict, while 24% said they should stay the same, and 15% said they should be less strict. There continues to be clear evidence of significant partisan differences in attitudes toward gun laws, which have been significantly relaxed in Texas over the last decade. Among Republicans, 46% would leave current gun laws unchanged, 22% would make them less strict, while 27% would make them more strict. Among Democrats the overwhelming majority, 87%, would make gun laws more strict, compared to 24% who would leave them unchanged and 15% who would make them less strict.
|Left as they are now||24%|
|Don't know/No opinion||6%|
|Left as they are now||3%||29%||46%|
|Don't know/No opinion||4%||14%||4%|
With crime and police budgets re-emerging as campaign issues, 86% of Texans reported feeling safe in their neighborhoods, while 11% registered feeling unsafe. At the same time, only a third of Texans, 33%, report feeling “very safe” in the area where they lived, compared to 44% in October of 2020.
Asked about police funding in the areas in which they live, 48% thought that spending on police should be increased either a little (29%) or a lot (19%), while only 12% said that police funding should be decreased either a little (6%) or a lot (6%). Two-thirds of Republicans, 66%, would like to see police spending increased compared to 37% of Democrats; while 21% of Democrats would decrease police funding, compared to only 4% of Republicans.
Only 6% of Texans rated the quality of K-12 public education in the state as excellent, with 40% rating it as good, 33% as not very good, and 11% as terrible. These results are comparable to previous instances in which this item was asked in UT polling.
|Not very good||33%|
|Don't know/No opinion||9%|
With a significant share of voters saying the economy is an important factor in their vote choice, inflation continues to have an impact on Texans’ finances: 56%, report that increased prices have had a major impact on their current household financial situation, while another 39% report a minor impact, and only 4% saying inflation has had no impact on them.
|A lot better off||4%|
|Somewhat better off||9%|
|About the same||35%|
|Somewhat worse off||32%|
|A lot worse off||17%|
The impact of inflation is evident in Texans’ assessments of the financial situation of their households. Only 13% say their family is economically better off compared to a year ago, the worst result since the inception of the polling project in 2008, while 49% say that they are worse off; 35% say they are about the same.
Inflation and other disruptive economic news is fueling negative evaluations of the Texas economy and, more acutely, the national economy. Only 17% of Texas voters say the U.S. economy is better than a year ago, while 62% say it is worse off, and 17% say it is the same. Evaluations of the Texas economy are less negative, but more indicative of uncertainty or perhaps a holding pattern compared to national assessments. A similarly low share say the Texas economy is better than it was a year ago (15%), though a lower share finds it worse (47%). Nearly a third (32%) say the economy is about the same as it was one year ago.
|A lot better off||4%|
|Somewhat better off||13%|
|About the same||17%|
|Somewhat worse off||22%|
|A lot worse off||40%|
These troubled economic evaluations are likely contributing to evaluations of the trajectory of the state and country. A large majority of Texans, 69%, continue to view the country as being on the wrong track, identical to the results in August polling, with only 21% saying the country is headed in the right direction.
State evaluations follow a similar though comparatively less negative pattern. Half of Texans, 50%, say the state is on the wrong track, the fourth consecutive poll in which half or more Texans said so, while 37% said Texas is headed in the right direction.
For more on the trajectory of Texans’ views of the economy and the general environment over the life of the Texas Politics Project polling enterprise, see our trends and approval tracking page.
Joe Biden’s job approval numbers in Texas remain deeply in net-negative approval territory as Republican candidates in Texas and the rest of the country attempt to exploit his low job approval numbers. His net approval rating in the latest poll is -13 (39% approved / 52% disapproved). His ratings remain predictably lopsided among Democrats (78% approve / 10% disapprove), and even more so among Republicans (90%/8%). Biden is also viewed negatively by independents: just 23% approve of his job performance, while 67% disapproved.
Assessments of the job that Biden is doing in 10 key issue areas also remain in net-negative territory across the board. He receives his best (i.e. least negative) reviews for his handling of COVID-19 (41% approve / 41% disapprove), health care (36%/43%), and climate change (33%/43%). His worst ratings come on issues that the poll found are highly salient to Texas voters: imimgration and border security (28% approve/54% disapprove), inflation and prices (27%/57%), and the economy (31%/52%).
Overall, 44% viewed former president Donald Trump favorably, while 47% viewed him unfavorably. The latest poll finds 82% of Texas Republicans holding a favorable view of the former president and only 9% holding an unfavorable one.
The belief that Joe Biden was not the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election continues to be prominent among Texas Republicans, nearly two-thirds of whom (64%) don’t think Joe Biden “legitimately won the 2020 presidential election.” (More than a third of independents, 37%, also share this belief.) Overall, 53% of Texans agree that Biden was legitimately elected, 35% disagree, and 12% are not sure. These results are consistent with previous polls in February, June, and August of this year, suggesting that denial of the legitimacy of the 2020 election continues to be a commonly held attitude among a significant minority of the Texas electorate, including a majority of Texas Republicans.
The survey asked Texans to rate major elected officials job performance. Results are summarized in the table below. To view trend data for these assessments, see our page tracking trends in assessments of political figures and conditions in Texas and the U.S.