11/05/2013 12:45 pm ET Updated Nov 05, 2013

How Close Is Wendy Davis To Greg Abbott In Texas Gov. Race? Depends On The Poll

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) is lagging 15 points behind Republican Greg Abbott in next year's race for Texas governor, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling -- a significantly different result than a survey released Monday that found her just six points behind.

The Tuesday poll finds Davis taking 35 percent of voters to Abbott's 50 percent, with 15 percent of the voters polled remaining undecided.

In contrast, an online University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Monday found Davis at 34 percent and Abbott at 40 percent. That survey found a much higher percentage of undecided voters -- 25 percent, rather than PPP's 15 percent --- and also gave more positive favorable ratings to both Abbott and Davis.

The polls' different results stem at least in part from very different methodologies: the PPP poll used automated phone calls and drew its sample from a list of registered voters, while the UT/TT poll made use of an online panel.

But both polls are still coming early in a race that, despite Davis' increasing prominence, has yet to capture much public attention.

In September, a poll from the Texas Lyceum found a whopping 50 percent of voters undecided. Pollster Joshua Blank explained that the survey didn't push people to choose a candidate, because, he argued, most people genuinely had no idea who they'd vote for. "At this stage in the process ... the notion that underlying preferences exist is dubious at best," he said. "People who say they haven't formed an opinion are by and large telling the truth."

In the PPP survey, Davis was viewed more negatively than positively, with 36 percent rating her favorably, 42 percent rating her unfavorably and 23 percent having no opinion. Abbott was lesser-known but better liked, with 35 percent rating him favorably, 32 percent rating him unfavorably and 33 percent unsure.

PPP's past surveys found Abbott leading by 12 points in January, with his lead dipping to 8 points in June, soon after Davis received national attention for her 11-hour filibuster against an anti-abortion bill.

The most recent poll surveyed 500 Texas voters between Nov. 1 and Nov. 4, using automated phone calls.



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