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Poll: Majority of Texas voters support busing migrants out of state

A person sitting a table with a microphone and a water bottle gestures with his hands while speaking.
Gabriel C. Pérez
According to a new poll, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is running for a third term, is leading Democrat Beto O’Rourke by 5 percentage points.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s controversial program of busing migrants waiting for their asylum hearings out of state has the support of a majority of Texas voters, a new poll released Wednesday found.

The Texas Politics Project surveyed 1,200 self-declared registered voters from Aug. 28 to Sept. 6.

According to the poll, 52% of Texas voters supported Abbott’s policy of busing migrants. Thirty-five percent expressed their opposition, while 14% said they were unsure.

Poll results show it is Texas Republicans who overwhelmingly support Abbott’s policy, while most Democrats in the state are against it.

“As much as critics in Texas and beyond have skewered Abbott's busing of migrants to Democratically-led cities beyond Texas as election-year trolling, his combative promotion of the busing activates Texas Republicans' intense sense of urgency about the border, and the widespread desire among them, persistently evident in polling over the last decade, to limit the number of immigrants of all types who come to Texas,” Jim Henson, executive director of the Texas Politics Project, said in a statement.

This is the first time the Texas Politics Project asked voters about Abbott’s policy, which was announced in April.

The Republican initially started sending unauthorized migrants — released by the federal government while pending a court hearing — out of Texas to Washington, D.C. Since then, buses from Texas have also arrived in Chicago and New York City.

But officials in other states have also reported migrants disembarking in other cities along the way, including Chattanooga, Tenn., creating an impact on smaller local governments.

Governor’s race narrows

In terms of the governor's race, Abbott, who is running for a third term, continues to lead Democrat Beto O’Rourke, by 5 points.

According to the poll, 45% of Texas voters surveyed signaled an intention to vote for Abbott, while 40% said they’d vote for O’Rourke.

In June, when the Texas Politics Project asked voters about the two candidates, Abbott was leading O’Rourke by 6 points.

“The poll illuminates an election environment in which the Abbott and O’Rourke match-up is the most competitive race for the office Texas has seen in decades,” Henson said.

He added that there’s not much evidence showing the candidates being able to attract crossover voters.

Among independent voters, Abbott leads 40% to 22% — an 8-point increase for Abbott since the Texas Politics Project’s last poll in June.

Meanwhile, in two other statewide races, Republicans continue to hold the lead over the Democratic candidates.

In the lieutenant governor race, Republican Dan Patrick leads Democrat Mike Collier by 7 points. In the attorney general race, Republican Ken Paxton leads Democrat Rochelle Garza by 5 points.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the former Texas Capitol reporter for The Texas Newsroom.
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