February 14, 2022 6:00am

Power Poll: Abbott will win GOP nomination without a runoff

Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke is the clear favorite among Power Poll Austin members

Photo of Andrea Zelinski
Austin, TX Correspondent

The results are in: Power Poll Austin members overwhelmingly plan to vote for former Congressman Beto O’Rourke in next month’s Democratic gubernatorial primary election. On the Republican side, Governor Greg Abbott is the clear leader amid a cluster of conservative candidates and critics vying for the party’s nomination.

Almost everybody who voted in the February Power Poll is confident Abbott will place first in the Republican primary. Who is most likely to threaten a runoff election is a toss-up: 35% of members think former state Senator Don Huffines will come in second while 25% of members think former Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West will be the runner-up.

More than two-thirds of members of the Power Poll don’t think there will be a Republican runoff, though.

On the Democratic side, an overwhelming majority believe O’Rourke will place first in the Democratic primary election.

Here are the specific questions and answers to the February Power Poll Austin.

This survey was sent to 436 Power Poll members where 115 responded for a response rate of 26.38%. The Power Poll is not a scientific poll, but a glimpse into the minds of those who wield influence in Austin. This includes public officials, CEOs, small business owners, community activists, restaurant owners and others. Power Poll is decidedly non-partisan.

Power Poll queries powerful leaders in approximately 25 cities across the country. Power Poll members share their opinions about pressing issues in their communities, giving the public a larger glimpse into what the people who run our cities are truly thinking. Power Poll aims to take similar surveys in the top 300 cities in the United States.

Political insiders often say Texas elections are decided in the primaries, which is why it was noteworthy several wealthy and noisy Republicans opted to run against Governor Greg Abbott in hopes of denying him a third term. One was Don Huffines, a conservative former state senator and wealthy businessman from Dallas. The other was Allen West, a former Florida congressman who ran the Republican Party of Texas for a year before resigning to run for governor. Both conservatives, they attacked Abbott from the right, beginning with criticizing his handling of the pandemic.

Abbott spent much of the last year combating that onslaught by guarding his right. He deployed the National Guard to the Texas-Mexico border and banned mask and Covid vaccine mandates. He also won the endorsement of former President Donald Trump last year, although some Trump supporters booed Abbott when he was announced at a rally with the 45th president last month.

Recent statewide polling shows Abbott was successful in capturing the majority of Republican voters' approval: 59% of Republicans surveyed in January in a Dallas Morning News-University of Texas at Tyler poll said they plan to vote for Abbott. If he wins more than 50% of the vote, he will avoid a runoff election and proceed to the general election. If no candidate earns at least 50% of the vote, a runoff election between the top two vote-getters will be held May 24.

Congressman Beto O’Rourke is the clear leader in the Democratic primary, according to the same statewide poll: 58% of Democrats polled indicated they would vote for the former congressman from El Paso. Those running against O’Rourke, including Beaumont chapter NAACP president Michael Cooper and KUT radio journalist Joy Diaz, have little name recognition compared to O’Rourke and have struggled to gain traction. O'Rourke is well-known around the state after having landed on Texans’ radar in 2018 by nearly unseating U.S. Senator Ted Cruz then running unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for president in the 2020 election cycle.

Early voting begins on February 14. Election day is March 1.

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