Republican Governor Greg Abbott leads Beto O'Rourke in the Texas governors’ race by more than four points, even though the Democrat has more support among Latinos and Blacks.
The increase in the cost of living dominates the concerns of registered voters in Texas for the November 8 elections and is emerging as a decisive factor, according to a survey by Univision News and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs of the University of Texas.
Half of the 1,400 respondents - including Hispanics, Whites and African-Americans - considered inflation to be the biggest problem facing the administration and the new Congress that will emerge from the elections to be held in two weeks time.
Inflation hit 8.2% annually in September, although it dropped a few tenths since then and is still at its highest levels in 40 years.
Opinions on which party could best control the cost-of-living problem are divided, but in general the views of White voters prevail.
While Latinos and African Americans trust Democrats more, a large majority of White, non-Hispanic voters believe Republicans would do better handling the economy. Among registered voters overall, 42% believe Republicans would do a better job, while only 29% say Democrats would be more effective.
Abortion rights appear far down the list of issues that Texas voters prioritize. It is the most important issue for 19% of women and only 15% of all respondents. All groups, however, would overwhelmingly (more than 65%) support a law guaranteeing access to abortion for those who need it.
Some strategists on the Democratic Party’s side believe the abortion issue will mobilize a significant part of the electorate after the Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark legal decision that guaranteed the federal right to terminate a pregnancy.
Mass shootings are more of a concern to voters than abortion. Unlike inflation and the ‘right to choose’ on terminating a pregnancy, where opinions among ethnic groups are similar, Latinos are more concerned about gun control than African-Americans.
Shootings are a top issue for 24% of Latinos, likely reflecting the impact of the recent massacre in Uvalde, the border town where a young man killed 19 students and 2 teachers at a Texas school in May.
Some 20% of African Americans consider mass shootings a priority issue, compared to 12% of non-Hispanic, White voters.
Border security is also an issue for Texans (20%), but there is a clear divide among different racial groups. About 29% percent of White voters believe it should be one of the top issues for Congress and the president to address, but Latinos and Blacks see it as less important (10% and 6%, respectively).
Overall, Latinos in Texas represent about 25% of the state's registered voters and lean towards the Democratic Party candidates. White voters remain the majority and are more likely to be Republican.
This is clearly seen in the gubernatorial race. Some 58% of Latinos and 70% of African-Americans say they will vote, or are inclined to vote, for O'Rourke. Meanwhile, Abbott, the current governor, has the support of 63% of White voters, giving him a four-point overall lead (46% - 42%).
The same goes for polling in the congressional election in November which could redraw the balance of power at the federal level. Although the preference of Latinos and African-Americans on the performance of the current Congress largely favors Democratic Party candidates, Republicans have the overall advantage.
While 55% of Latinos and 75% of African Americans say they will vote for Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives, only 25% of Whites say they will do the same, and 63% will vote for Republican candidates. That gives Republicans a seven-point advantage (47% vs. 40%) in overall voter intention in the state.
President Joe Biden's popularity isn’t helping Democratic Party candidates. The weakness in the economy is due to many factors - the hangover from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, among others - but historically voters always blame the incumbents.
Overall, 55% of registered Texas voters have a poor image of Biden, while 40% view him favorably. Among Latinos the numbers are reversed (40% - 55%), but the percentage who view him "very favorably" (26%) is nearly equal to those who view him "very unfavorably" (24%).
This is a trend that Univision News polling has observed since the beginning of the year.
Donald Trump, meanwhile, has a 49% favorability rating among registered voters in Texas. It is much lower among Latinos, at 34%.
Moreover, as is also the case in Nevada ( where a similar survey was conducted), Trump's unsubstantiated attacks on supposed election fraud seem to have become a talking point, at least among a good part of the electorate that identifies with the Republican Party. That is in spite of the lack of evidence that any fraud occurred in the 2020 presidential election.
Overall, 31% of all voters believe that voter fraud is a big problem and that it can alter the results of an election. An additional 38% believe that fraud exists, even if it doesn’t reach the level of altering the outcome of an election.
According to the poll, 66% of registered voters are almost certain they will vote on November 8, or earlier if they choose to use early voting. Two years ago, that figure was 74%, according to the Univision News poll.
The Univision News/University of Texas poll, which has a margin of error of 2.6%, was conducted by a bipartisan academic team led by Univision Polling Director and LBJ School professor Sergio Garcia-Rios, in collaboration with BSP Research and Shaw & Company Research.
Methodology: in collaboration with the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin, Univision News commissioned a representative survey with Texas registered voters age 18 and over. Interviews for this survey were conducted between October 11 and October 18, 2022. Data were collected using both probability and non-probability sample sources for a total of 1400 observations. The overall margin of error for the combined sample is +/- 2.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level, including the design effect. The survey includes an oversample of Latino (n= 500, MOE +/- 4.4) and Black voters (n= 400, MOE +/- 4.9). The margin of sampling error may be higher for other subgroups. Surveys were administered in English or Spanish at the discretion of the respondent and included a mix of cell phone, landline telephone, text-to-web, and online self-completed interviews; all respondents were verified to be registered voters. We provide results for all registered voters (n=1400) and among likely voters (n = 930). The survey was overseen by Dr. Sergio Garcia-Rios, director of polling for Univision, and administered by BSP Research and Shaw & Co.