Poll: Beto O’Rourke Struggles to Conjure Support in Home State of Texas

Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke wipes sweat from his brow as he speaks at a campaign stop at a coffee shop Sunday, March 24, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
AP/John Locher

Beto O’Rourke (D) is struggling to garner support in his home state of Texas, with Joe Biden (D) maintaining his lead in the Lone Star State and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) taking a second-place position, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll released Wednesday.

The poll, which surveyed 550 registered voters likely to vote in the Texas Democrat primary, was taken August 29 – September 8 and showed Democrat voters flocking to O’Rourke’s competitors.

Texas voters overwhelmingly selected Biden as their first choice, with the national frontrunner garnering 26 percent support. Warren came in second place with 18 percent support, followed by O’Rourke, who fell to third place with 14 percent support. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) followed, just two points behind O’Rourke with 12 percent support.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), Julián Castro (D), Andrew Yang (D), and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) followed with five percent, four percent, three percent, three percent, and two percent, respectively. The remaining candidates saw one percent support or less. The margin of error is +/- 4.17 percent.

The Texas Tribune noted O’Rourke’s slow descent in his own state:

“If you look at this in the context of the trajectory of the polling in this race, Warren is moving and O’Rourke is static — not only nationally, but in his own state,” said James Henson, who runs the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin and co-directs the poll.

“He’s down by one point [from the previous UT/TT Poll], and Warren increased by 5 points,” he said. “Her movement nationally is also being expressed in Texas.”

“In a crowded field in which you know many of these candidates are not going to be in this race by the time voting happens in Texas, second choices matter,” Henson said. “And when you look at second choices, Warren’s support is deep and numerically larger than Biden’s.”

Most Democrats surveyed, 43 percent, considered “Defeating Donald Trump” as the most important factor in the 2020 Democrat race. Health care and gun control followed with 12 percent each. Nine percent chose “climate change” as the most pressing issue of the Democrat primary race.

The UT/TT Poll parallels the results of the Texas Lyceum poll released last week, which showed Biden leading the pack in Texas with 24 percent to O’Rourke’s 18 percent. While the former Texas lawmaker came in second place instead of third, it was still a five-point drop from the previous month’s results, signaling a slow decline.

Despite O’Rourke’s struggle to break into the top tier of Democrat candidates, he will appear on the Democrat debate stage alongside nine of his competitors in Houston, Texas, Thursday evening.


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