In the largest and reddest state in the country, Governor Greg Abbott won three elections with key Latino support. The racial and gender gap.
On November 8, Republican Greg Abbott was re-elected to a third term as governor of Texas. He will shortly become the second longest serving governor in Texas history, after Rick Perry (2000-2014) who served as governor for three and a half terms. A crucial component of Abbott's winning coalition has been the Latino electorate, which has consistently provided strong, albeit not majority, support for Abbott and other Texas Republicans. The two-fifths of Texas Latinos who consistently vote Republican are pivotal to the Texas Republican Party's majority status in the Lone Star State.
Abbott's first gubernatorial election took place in 2014 after Perry chose not to seek re-election. Abbott handily defeated his Democratic challenger, state senator Wendy Davis, by a 20 percentage point margin, 59% to 39%. Exit poll data indicate that 44% of Latino voters cast a ballot for Abbott compared to 55% who voted for Davis. Significantly more white voters voted for Abbott (72%) than Davis (25%), just as significantly more Black voters voted for Davis (92%) than Abbott (7%).
Within the Latino electorate there was however a sharp gender difference in support of the two candidates, with Latino men narrowly favoring Abbott (49%) over Davis (48%) by 1%, and Latina women strongly favoring Davis (61%) over Abbott (39%) by 22%. Similar gender differences were seen among white voters, with 79% of white men supporting Abbott and 18% Davis (a 51% gap), and 66% of white women supporting Abbott and 31% Davis (a 35% gap).
In Abbott's first reelection bid in 2018, he faced Democratic Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who he defeated by a 13 percentage point margin, 56% to 43%. Exit poll data indicate that 42% of Latino voters cast a ballot for Abbott and 53% for Valdez. Significantly more white voters voted for Abbott (69%) than Valdez (29%), just as significantly more Black voters voted for Valdez (82%) than Abbott (15%).
Within the Latino electorate, Abbott once again performed better among men (losing to Davis by 7%) than among women (losing to Davis by 12%), but with the difference much more modest than in 2014. The gender gap was much stronger and salient among white voters, with Abbott winning the white male vote by 52% and the white female vote by 31%.
In 2022 Abbott faced his toughest re-election challenge yet from former Democratic congressman (and 2018 Democratic U.S. Senate candidate) Beto O'Rourke. Abbott spent close to $150 million in this race, setting a Texas spending record, and in spite of O'Rourke and his allies spending close to $90 million, Abbott was re-elected to a third term by an 11 percentage point margin, 55% to 44%. Exit poll data indicate that 40% of Latino voters cast a ballot for Abbott and 57% for O'Rourke. Significantly more white voters voted for Abbott (66%) than O'Rourke (33%), just as significantly more Black voters voted for O'Rourke (84%) than Abbott (15%).
Within the Latino electorate, Abbott once again performed better with men (losing by 8%) than with women (losing by 26%), with gender differences among white voters more muted this cycle, with Abbott winning the male vote by 39% and the female vote by 28%.
In Texas Governor Greg Abbott's three gubernatorial election campaigns be consistently won two-fifths of the Latino vote, with proportions ranging narrowly from 40% to 44%. Combined with Abbott's ability to win approximately two-thirds of the white vote, this two-fifths Latino vote has allowed Abbott and other Republicans to maintain a lock on statewide office, with no Democrat having been elected at the statewide level since 1994. As the Latino electorate continues to grow in Texas, maintaining or growing this two-fifths Latino support, will become more and more vital to the Texas Republican Party's ability to maintain control of Texas, far and away the largest and most important red state in the United States.
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