The Dallas Morning News reports that Public Policy Polling (PPP) has released its third 2014 election poll in the State of Texas. The poll paints a pretty awful picture of where Wendy Davis stands against Greg Abbott in the race for Governor, in stark contrast to the Texas Tribune Poll released just yesterday.
The poll shows Abbott’s lead grow to a staggering 15 points (with Abbott at the 50% threshold), nearly doubling the lead he held in July and even stronger than the lead held in January. The polls also examine the entrance of Debra Medina as an undecided into the race, as well as a general election matchup for Lieutenant Governor that included David Dewhurst and Leticia Van de Putte.
There were no polls, however, involving the primary elections (specifically the especially acrimonious Lieutenant Governor Republican primary). Though there was an examination of the omnibus anti-abortion bill’s popularity throughout the State. Favorability ratings were also examined, though I found those less important.
1. Governor election (w/o Medina)
2. Governor election (w/ Medina)
3. Lieutenant Governor election
Leticia Van de Putte–37%
4. HB2 Opinion
A few things to note, of course. First, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-Bexar County), while currently mulling a run for Lieutenant Governor, is not an officially declared candidate. Second, incumbent David Dewhurst, while currently holding a slight plurality in polling, is not by any means a shoe-in for re-election. PPP committed a major error by not measuring Van de Putte’s performance against one of Dewhurst’s opponents, specifically State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County).
Third, Debra Medina has only hinted at running for Governor as an independent. A current candidate for Comptroller, it is still a long shot that she goes through with it. The poll from the Tribune included Libertarian Kathie Glass as a candidate, which makes much more sense and had a very similar effect.
Now, why did Davis do so poorly in this poll? The short answer is that PPP (which, for what it is worth, is a very accurate pollster in national elections) had a significantly more conservative view of who was going to vote. Additionally, Abbott actually leads Davis amongst Hispanics in this poll (43-38). Meanwhile, in the Tribune poll, Hispanics broke for Davis 38 to 31. Additionally, only 62% of African-Americans support Davis in the PPP poll (a big chunk are undecided).
The Tribune poll had a very generous minority turnout percentage whereas the PPP poll had a very conservative minority turnout percentage. The reality ultimately lies somewhere in the middle. However, the bigger problem in the PPP poll is that minority support is somewhat out of whack. If Davis receives less than 50% of the Hispanic vote, I will be indescribably shocked. Similarly if Davis receives less than 80% of the African-American vote. Make of this what you will.
Finally, the mixed view of HB2 injects doubt into the idea that Wendy Davis’ abortion stance will be all that detrimental to her candidacy. Texans do not, by and large, support the law. In fact, a small plurality of the conservatively-selected likely voters oppose the law.
The root of this painful poll is the idea of those aforementioned likely voters. If nothing changes from previous elections, this is where we are heading, a +15% Abbott victory. Only if we expand the electorate do we make the election competitive.