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Where is Beto O’Rourke’s best chance to beat Greg Abbott in Texas? Not here

The rivals for governor are tied in one region, with Abbott ahead in four of five others, a new poll finds.

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott has a double-digit lead over Beto O’Rourke in North Texas in the race for governor, according to a breakdown of voters in a new poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler.

Abbott, a Republican seeking a third term, was ahead of O’Rourke by 54% to 35% in North Texas, as defined by the state’s leading economic-development booster group — not just Dallas-Fort Worth but Sherman-Denison and Wichita Falls as well.

Mark Owens, the poll’s director, divided the survey’s respondents into each of the Texas Economic Development Corporation’s six regions to determine how Abbott and O’Rourke, a former El Paso congressman, were performing across the state.

O’Rourke only is winning in one region, Central Texas — Austin, Waco, and Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood. The Democrat is running about even with Abbott in South Texas and the Gulf Coast.

Abbott’s strongest regions are the state’s most rural — East Texas, where he’s running 44 percentage points ahead of O’Rourke; and West Texas, where the Republican incumbent’s advantage is 23 points.

Among registered voters statewide, Abbott leads O’Rourke, 47% to 38%. Among Texans who said they are certain or likely to vote, Abbott was ahead by 11 percentage points, 50% to 39%.The poll, conducted Sept. 6-13, surveyed 1,268 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Abbott is counting on voters’ worries about inflation, crime and the border — and the state’s continuing economic and population growth — to carry him to victory on Nov. 8.

O’Rourke is stoking a voter backlash against 20 years of total GOP domination of statewide offices and the Legislature.

Abbott’s not been a good steward of public schools, public health and the power grid, he says. O’Rourke also is hoping the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde and Texas’ virtual ban of abortion, which kicked in on Aug. 25, will peel independents away from Abbott and bring Democrats who don’t usually vote in midterms to the polls.

In The News and UT-Tyler’s last two polls, O’Rourke and Abbott have been almost evenly splitting independents. This month, O’Rourke led among them, 36%-35%; last month, 34%-31%. However, a poll released Sept. 16 by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin showed Abbott opening up an 18-point lead among independents.

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