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Davis Gains in Latest Polling

By Brandon Watson, November 4, 2013, 11:40am, Newsdesk

Although conventional wisdom and Texas Monthly cover stories have decided that a Greg Abbott governorship is a foregone conclusion, a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll suggests that the race may be tightening. October polling now has Sen. Wendy Davis trailing the attorney general by single digits.

If the election were held today, Davis would draw 34% of registered voters and Abbott would get 40%. With Libertarian Kathie Glass added to the mix, Davis would draw 35% of the vote. Large swathes of voters, however, remain undecided in both scenarios. In the two-way race, 25% do not have an opinion. In the three-way race, that number drops to 20%.

Davis fares better when paired against former Texas Workforce Commission chair Tom Pauken, besting him by 4% in a two-way race. Still, Pauken remains a blip in the Republican primary race. The overwhelming majority of poll respondents with an opinion said they would vote for Abbott in the gubernatorial primary. None of the rest of the field, including Pauken, would draw support in the double digits. In fact, Pauken was bested by a percentage point by conservative pundit Lisa Fritsch.

The favorability scores show that Davis has largely closed the name-recognition gap with Abbott. In June, the UT/TT poll showed 58% of respondents either did not know Davis or had no opinion. That number has now shrunk to 16%. Of the number who did have an opinion of Davis, 37% had a very favorable or somewhat favorable impression, compared to 31% who had a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable view.

Although Abbott has been attorney general for more than a decade, he does not have a name-recognition advantage over Davis. 18% of those polled either did not know or had no opinion of Abbott. His favorability numbers were at 36%, with 24% expressing an unfavorable view.

The numbers for the other statewide races did not provide much in the way of surprises. David Dewhurst remains the favorite in the four-way lieutenant governor race, with a 13% lead over the closest challenger, Sen. Dan Patrick. Although there was some chatter that Dewhurst's performance during Davis' abortion law filibuster would hurt him in the primaries, for now his name recognition seems to be helping him hold on to frontrunner status. Low engagement may be helping too. 46% of respondents did not have an opinion on the race at all.

The attorney general contest appears to be the tightest statewide race. Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman and Sen. Ken Paxton are neck and neck, with 11% and 10% of the vote respectively. Tea Party candidate Debra Medina holds the lead in the race to replace current Comptroller Susan Combs, the only candidate to draw in double digit support.

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