|New Texas GOP Chairman Allen West and deposed party boss James Dickey and activists who met in large groups at the Houston Marriott Marquis Hotel last week for pre-convention business were exempt from statewide mask and social distancing orders thanks to a special exception from Governor Greg Abbott.
Cruz Edges Out Governor for Popularity Crown
Amid Bad Abbott Reviews on Pandemic Moves
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
July 22, 2020
Governor Greg Abbott approval ratings have plunged in new Texas voter poll as a consequence of the way he's handled the coronavirus crisis despite overwhelming support for a statewide mask order that he imposed this month.
The Republican governor who's been the most popular leader in Texas for years received a failing grade from 48 percent of the voters for his attempts to lead during the pandemic compared to a thumbs up from 47 percent in the new survey.
That's slightly better than the view that Texas voters have of President Donald Trump's behavior during the worst public health emergency in more than a century with 52 percent expressing their disapproval with him while only 45 percent gave him positive marks in the Quinnipiac poll.
The dismal assessment on Abbott's leadership during the biggest crisis in modern Texas history proved to be a prelude for a record number of COVID-19 fatalities that the state reported on Wednesday with 197 in the past 24 hours.
The survey of 880 registered voters that was conducted here over a four-day period that ended on Monday found Democrat Joe Biden leading Trump by one point with 45 percent support in Texas in a preview of the bout at the top of the ticket in November. The president was favored by 44 percent of the participants in the Quinnipiac poll of Texas voter preferences - the same level of support that he'd had here a month ago when Biden trailed by a single point.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn is up by nine on Democratic MJ Hegar with 47 percent - a relatively low share of support for a veteran incumbent in a duel with a challenger who'd been a political unknown two years ago.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz - an Abbott protégé who almost lost a re-election race two years ago - passed the governor for the first time in the Texas leader popularity sweepstakes in the new survey that found them both with 48 percent approval while the governor's disapproval rating was two points higher at 44 percent.
Abbott had garnered strong public support for his actions during the first three months after the initial COVID-19 outbreak with 56 percent of the Texas voters in a Quinnipiac poll in early June giving him favorable reviews for his performance in the novel crisis.
But the governor's fast-track reopening in May and June when Abbott was in denial about the second surge for several weeks has culminated with 65 percent of the Texans in the Quinnipiac survey saying that the coronavirus is out of control in the Lone Star State that's been one of the nation's hottest spots for nearly two months.
Sixty-nine percent are concerned to various degrees about the state running out of hospital space for virus patients while 68 percent say the governor should not interfere if local officials feel compelled to issue stay-at-home orders like those that Abbott invalidated when he decided to take singular command of the Texas response in April.
Fifty-two percent say that Abbott moved too quickly with the reopening compared to 33 percent who think he jump-start the economy at the right pace. Only 13 percent believed that Abbott didn't unlock the state soon enough.
But 80 percent of the Texas voter in the Quinnipiac poll back the Abbott mask mandate in a resounding rebuke to Trump and his loyalists on the far right.