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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

By Jonathan Tilove, American-Statesman Staff

AUSTIN, Texas — Attorney General Greg Abbott is holding a steady double-digit lead over state Sen. Wendy Davis in the Texas governor’s race, according to a poll conducted Thursday through Sunday by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning polling firm based in North Carolina.

The survey found that Abbott was leading Davis 51 percent to 37 percent, just about the same as Abbott’s 50 percent to 35 percent lead when they last polled in November.

Most troubling for the Davis campaign is that nearly half the electorate has an unfavorable view of the Fort Worth Democrat, who is 12 points better known than Abbott. In the first flush of national celebrity right after her Senate filibuster of abortion legislation in June, a Public Policy Polling survey found Davis had a 39 percent favorable rating, compared to 29 percent who viewed her unfavorably. That has now flipped and only 33 percent view her in a positive light, while 47 percent hold a negative view of her.

Davis is as unpopular with women as men. Just 32 percent of women viewed her favorably, compared with 46 percent of women who viewed her unfavorably. Among men, 33 percent had a positive view, while 48 percent held a negative view. However, she is still running a far stronger race with women than men. Abbott leads Davis among women, 49 percent to 41 percent, and among men, 53 percent to 32 percent.

Abbott has a 64 percent to 27 percent lead among white voters. Davis leads among Hispanics, 43 percent to 33 percent, and among African-Americans 72 percent to 11 percent.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 559 registered voters April 10-13. The margin of error for the overall survey is plus or minus 4.1 percent. Eighty percent of interviews for the poll were conducted over the phone with 20 percent interviewed over the Internet to reach respondents who don’t have land line telephones.

According to the poll, President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular in Texas — only 36 percent of voters in the state approve of the job he is doing while 58 percent disapprove.

“It looks like it’s going to be an uphill battle for Democrats in Texas this year,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling.

In the race for lieutenant governor, Public Policy Polling found Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in worse shape than Davis no matter which Republican wins the May runoff. Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick leads her by 16 points at 51 percent to 35 percent, while incumbent David Dewhurst leads her by 18 points at 50 percent to 32 percent.

The Public Policy Polling survey also contained good news for Gov. Rick Perry, who has been attempting to repair his reputation, in Texas and nationally, as he contemplates a second run for president. The survey found 48 percent viewed him favorably, and 44 percent unfavorably. Two years ago, in the aftermath of his disastrous presidential run, Perry had a positive rating of 39 percent, and a negative rating of 53 percent.

The survey also revealed that U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the state’s senior senator, who is seeking a third term, continues be an underwhelming figure for Texas voters. He suffers a negative approval rating of 40 percent, compared to 31 percent who viewed him favorably. Only 46 percent of Republicans viewed him favorably. But he leads Dr. David Alameel in a prospective November showdown — 49 percent to 32 percent — assuming Alameel prevails in the May runoff over Kesha Rogers, a Democrat from Houston who has called for the impeachment of Obama.

Alan Kotok via Flickr.com