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Texas Governor’s Race Narrows After Uvalde Shooting, Poll Shows

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s lead over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke has narrowed in the three weeks since the Uvalde elementary-school massacre renewed a national debate over gun control.

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Abbott, a Republican seeking a third term in November, has a lead of five percentage points over O’Rourke, according to a Quinnipiac University poll published Wednesday. In a December poll by the same institution, the incumbent had a 15-point lead.

The June 9 to June 13 survey of 1,257 Texans registered to vote has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

The fresh poll suggests that O’Rourke, a former US representative, is gaining momentum as he calls out Abbott’s ardent support of gun rights in the wake of the Uvalde shooting. An 18-year-old with a rifle fatally shot 19 children and two teachers before he was killed by police.

Just last year, Abbott further relaxed Texas gun laws, saying the moves would “protect the rights of law-abiding citizens and ensure that Texas remains a bastion of freedom.”

Since the Uvalde shooting in late May, the governor has put the focus on hardening school security and getting Texans mental health support. He has not publicly discussed implementing any legislation to tighten gun policy.

Abbott led O’Rourke 48% to 43% in the latest Quinnipiac poll. In December, he led 52% to 37%. In a separate survey released in early May by the Dallas Morning News-University of Texas at Tyler, Abbott was ahead by seven points -- 46% to 39%.

In the Quinnipiac poll, 51% of voters said they think stricter gun laws would prevent mass shootings. That’s an increase from 42% in a Quinnipiac poll a year ago. Still, just 17% listed gun policy as the most urgent issue facing the Lone Star state.

Abbott was perceived as doing a better job on handling five of six top issues, including gun policy, the economy, the Texas-Mexico border situation, the pandemic response and election laws. O’Rourke was seen more favorably on the topic of abortion.

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