Texans not sold on a 3rd term for Greg Abbott or on a run by Beto O'Rourke to replace him

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Texas voters show no great enthusiasm for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott serving a third term, and no great enthusiasm for Democrat Beto O'Rourke replacing him in next year's election, a Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday found.

"A Trump favorite in a state that is turning less red in recent election cycles, Abbott has a decent but in no way overwhelming grasp on reelection," Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said.

Voters are equally ambivalent about the prospect of Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey entering the 2022 race for governor.

The poll of 1,099 Texas registered voters surveyed June 15 through Monday showed 46% of respondents said he deserves a third term while 48% say he does not. But the poll also found that half of Texans support Abbott's plan to continue work on former President Donald Trump's border wall project.

Beto O'Rourke speaks to the press following the voting rights rally “For the People: The Texas Drive For Democracy” at the Texas Capitol on Sunday, June 20, 2020.
Beto O'Rourke speaks to the press following the voting rights rally “For the People: The Texas Drive For Democracy” at the Texas Capitol on Sunday, June 20, 2020.

They also like Abbott's statement that he wants to arrest on state charges people crossing into Texas from Mexico without legal authorization. Overall, 55% said that's a good idea, while 38% panned it.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Deeply partisan divisions

The wall and immigration questions, like the ones about Abbott and O'Rourke's election-year prospects, show deep partisan divisions, the poll found. Republicans, by 89% to 8%, support the state moving forward with what had been a federal border wall project. Democrat dislike the plan, 83% to 14%. The split among independents was narrow: 52% said they opposed Abbott's wall idea, while 46% supported it.

Abbott, who has been endorsed by Trump and plans to host him next week along Texas' southern border, has one announced GOP primary opponent — former state Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas. But the governor appears to have solid support within his own party. Among Republican respondents, 82% said he deserves to be reelected.

By contrast, 83% of all respondents said they don't know enough about Huffines to register an opinion of him.

More: Gov. Abbott vetoed 20 Texas bills. Here are some of them and his reasons.

O'Rourke, an El Pasoan who in 2018 gave up his congressional seat to unsuccessfully challenge U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and then made an abortive run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has expressed interest in running for governor but has not committed to a race.

Instead, he has been crisscrossing Texas seeking to gin up support for federal legislation to protect voting rights and knock down a GOP-led effort back home that would place limits on early and mail-in voting, among other things.

In an interview last week with the USA TODAY Network, O'Rourke said any decision on 2022 will come after the voting rights matter is settled.

"I'm going to focus on this for as long as it takes," said O'Rourke, who was the headline speaker Sunday at a voting rights rally outside the Texas Capitol. "There's just nothing more important because this is an existential moment for democracy."

Overall, 52% of Texans said they don't want O'Rourke to be governor, but more than three-quarters of his fellow Democrats do.

More: If McConaughey is serious about running for governor, he'd face serious hurdles

McConaughey, a political novice, has teased the idea of running for governor, but he has not provided a timetable for making a decision. He also has not disclosed whether he has a party affiliation.

But Democrats appear more receptive to the actor making the race: 47% said he should run while 43% said he shouldn't. Six in 10 Republicans said they had little use for a McConaughey candidacy.

President Joe Biden received split marks on overall job approval: 45% approved; 50% didn't. But his numbers on how he is managing illegal immigration are in the tank: Fewer than 3 in 10 said the Democratic president was doing a good job on that front, while 64% said he was not.

Vice President Kamala Harris, tasked by Biden to examine the root causes of the uptick in illegal immigration, plans to make her first visit to the Texas border since taking office on Friday when she visits El Paso.

John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network in Austin. Contact him at jmoritz@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @JohnnieMo.

This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Texas Quinnipiac Poll shows lukewarm support for both Abbott, Beto