AUSTIN (Nexstar) – Friday’s Texas Governor’s Debate got here at an important time for Beto O’Rourke. With simply 5 weeks to go earlier than Election Day, polls present the Democratic challenger with a deficit within the excessive single digits to incumbent Governor Greg Abbott.
Polling launched earlier within the week by Emerson Faculty Polling and The Hill confirmed Abbott with an 8-point lead over O’Rourke. The challenger faces the problem of profitable over a shrinking pool of undecided voters.
The talk had few headline-making moments, which can have labored towards O’Rourke.
“It was really a fairly non-dramatic debate, which I believe is a extremely good factor for Greg Abbott,” mentioned John Wittman, a advisor who beforehand labored as Abbott’s director of communications.
“Usually, the challenger who’s down actually must have that breakout second. I didn’t see that tonight from Beto O’Rourke,” Wittman added.
Travis County Democratic Get together Chair Katie Naranjo agreed there was no breakout second within the debate, however she noticed O’Rourke creating a possibility by highlighting sure points.
“I believe the truth is accountability has been established, the shortage of accountability the Governor has…,” Naranjo mentioned, referencing Abbott’s immigration insurance policies and stance on gun laws.
“If you happen to as a feminine voter, a mother sitting there listening myself, assume holding individuals accountable that could be a breakaway second, then it offers voters the facility to carry the Governor accountable,” Naranjo mentioned.
Entry to abortion query highlights stark variations between Abbott and O’Rourke
The Supreme Courtroom ruling overturning Roe v. Wade helped make abortion a bigger issue within the November election. Texas now has legal guidelines in place to ban abortion, with no exceptions for pregnancies attributable to rape or incest.
A survey by Emerson Faculty Polling and The Hill requested Texas voters whether or not the choice to overturn Roe v. Wade would make them kind of prone to vote. The outcomes confirmed 54% saying they’d be extra prone to vote in November. A major minority, 41%, replied that the ruling made no distinction in whether or not they would vote.
Throughout Friday night time’s debate, Governor Abbott reiterated that the state ought to make it possible for Plan B emergency contraception is offered for victims of sexual assault.
“Whether or not it’s at a hospital, at a clinic, or for somebody who will get a prescription due to it, not solely ought to [Plan B] be available, however the state of Texas goes to pay for it to make it possible for it’s obtainable for them,” Abbott mentioned, in response to a debate query.
O’Rourke mentioned the state legal guidelines backed by Abbott go too far.
“This election is about freedom,” he mentioned on the controversy stage and exhorted Texans to go to the polls.
“If you happen to care about this, it is advisable to prove and vote. I’ll battle to verify each girl in Texas could make her personal choice about her personal physique, her personal future, her personal healthcare,” O’Rourke vowed.
State of Texas host Josh Hinkle spoke to 2 coverage insiders in regards to the statements on abortion from the candidates. John Wittman beforehand managed the communications crew for Governor Abbott. He now’s a founding father of Wittman Public Affairs in Austin. Katie Naranjo is the chair of the Travis County Democratic Get together. She’s a healthcare advocate and the CEO of a small enterprise in Austin.
What follows is a transcript of their dialogue:
Josh Hinkle: Katie, I need to begin with you what we heard the governor saying targeted so much on emergency contraception and entry to that. What did you assume if you heard what he needed to say?
Katie Naranjo: I thank God that he’s not an OBGYN, as a result of he clearly doesn’t know the way Plan B works, in addition to fee and or being a sufferer of rape. And whereas that is one side of reproductive well being care, there are lots of different points which might be at play right here. We’re speaking about constitutional rights. An individual in Texas who is ready to carry a toddler has much less rights as we speak than they did when Governor Abbott first went into workplace. And he has made it not solely unlawful to hunt an abortion within the state of Texas, when it comes to rape or incest, but additionally now we have an legal professional basic combating to verify within the lifetime of a mom that persons are nonetheless prosecuted in the event that they ain’t abandon abortion in Texas.
Josh Hinkle: What do you assume John?
John Wittman: Nicely, I believe one of the crucial highly effective moments of this debate relating to abortion tonight was really when Governor Abbott spoke about his daughter and the adoption that they went via and the significance of defending harmless human life. And I believe that was really a extremely highly effective second that related so much with voters. You understand, Beto likes throw round phrases like extremism on this situation. However the actuality is, is that Beto doesn’t consider in any limits on abortion in any way. Up till 39 weeks, he refused to reply the query once more, tonight. He’s on the file saying that he doesn’t consider in any limits on abortion. In order a lot as he likes to throw across the phrase extremism, he’s obtained an actual drawback with that.
Katie Naranjo: Have you learnt, anybody that’s really ever had an abortion at 39 weeks?
John Wittman: I’m sorry, why is that…
Katie Naranjo: Precisely. Once more, that’s utilizing political ploys and speaking extremes on reproductive points…
John Wittman: Then why is it so arduous for Beto to say that you just shouldn’t be capable of have an abortion at 39 weeks?
Katie Naranjo: Why does the Republican Get together need to develop extra rights when you know what’s occurring in my physique than defending the harmless lives, as you so declare, relating to youngsters in faculties or in church?
John Wittman: I don’t assume there’s something extremism with out attempting to guard harmless human life. And that’s what Governor Abbott is all about.
Katie Naranjo: Besides relating to gun management. That’s our situation right here. We need to make it possible for ladies are compelled to provide delivery after which we don’t need to really shield the youngsters after they’re born.
John Wittman: I nonetheless don’t know the place Beto O’Rourke stands on the difficulty after tonight.
Swayed by the message – voters react in actual time to Abbott vs O’Rourke debate
Throughout Friday’s debate, Nexstar reporter Jackie Kingston noticed as a panel of 20 voters watched the controversy. Every member of the panel used a dial to register their response in actual time to what the candidates mentioned on stage.
The dials captured a powerful response to how the candidates spoke about actions taken after the college taking pictures in Uvalde.
“That is going to be an emergency merchandise,” Governor Abbott mentioned, referencing how he deliberate to make college security laws one in every of his priorities for state lawmakers after they convene in January. “Over the summer season, I requested particular committees to be working already, so they are going to be prepared when the session begins,” Abbott added.
The Governor has confronted criticism for deciding to not name lawmakers again for a particular session to cross college security laws quickly earlier than subsequent yr. O’Rourke echoed that criticism on the controversy stage.
“Why not name a session proper now? Why wait till subsequent yr?” O’Rourke requested. “Gun violence is the main explanation for loss of life of youngsters on this state. Why are you ready to avoid wasting lives?”
The gun debate drew robust responses from members of the panel. A mom, who can be a instructor spoke out about how the Uvalde taking pictures resonates together with her and others.
“You don’t should be any person that’s within the classroom each day like me, you don’t should be any person who drops your children off each day to know and know the influence of Uvalde, ” she mentioned. “Transferring ahead, you understand, sooner or later, by no means letting something like that ever occur once more.”
One other panelist observed that there was no viewers within the debate corridor. The 2 campaigns agreed on guidelines for the controversy, which included no stay viewers. However O’Rourke posted an image of an empty debate corridor on social media hours earlier than the controversy, blaming Governor Abbott for the rule. Abbott’s marketing campaign denied the accusation.
“That to me was very telling,” the panelist mentioned in a stay interview throughout Nexstar’s post-debate protection. “I went in right here undecided, open thoughts. However you understand, studying that earlier as we speak, positively swayed me in a extra damaging approach in direction of Mr. Abbott,” he defined.
Earlier than the controversy, every panelist used the dial system to point whether or not they had been leaning towards voting for Abbott, O’Rourke, or in the event that they had been undecided. Abbott had 40% help getting into, O’Rourke 27%, with 33% undecided.
After the controversy, Kingston requested the panel to vote once more, to point who they’d help in the mean time. The undecided numbers dropped considerably, shrinking from 33% to 7%. Governor Abbott’s help rose barely, to 43%. Beto O’Rourke’s numbers shot up, rising to 50%.
Now that you just’ve heard the 2 candidates for governor in Texas debate the largest problems with the 2022 marketing campaign, we need to know who you assume had the very best exhibiting.
Did incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott do sufficient to win your help and maintain onto his seat? Did Democrat Beto O’Rourke have the large night time he hoped for to realize the help from sufficient voters to ship him to Austin? We’re sharing the ballot above throughout the state of Texas to see what debate watchers considered Friday’s efficiency.
Verify again over the subsequent few days to see the most recent outcomes from this unscientific debate ballot.
Weapons and the Grid
“Beto talks so much about all this stuff that he needs to do relating to weapons, however he has to really work throughout the confines of the legislature. The governor will not be a king, the governor has to work with the legislature,” Wittman mentioned of O’Rourke wanting to lift the minimal age to buy AR-15s and eager to enact purple flag legal guidelines.
Households affected by the Uvalde college taking pictures have voiced up to now they need to increase the age requirement for buying semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21.
“In the case of gun management, what voters in Texas should resolve is do they consider that Gov. Abbott goes to make it much less protected or extra protected for his or her youngsters to have the ability to go to highschool … and what voters didn’t hear tonight was an answer,” Naranjo mentioned, pointing to the permitless carry regulation that went into impact final yr.
The regulation, Home Invoice 1927, permits Texans 21 and older to hold a handgun in public within the state. There are exceptions for felons and people underneath 21, and patrons will nonetheless be required to cross a background test at a gun retailer.
In the course of the February 2021 winter storm, thousands and thousands of Texans misplaced energy in freezing temperatures and lots of perished due to failures with the facility grid, which is managed by the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas.
In response, Abbott helped cross laws to overtake and reform ERCOT, requiring weatherization for gear and communication enhancements throughout outages.
“The truth is that the grid held up this summer season due to the legal guidelines that Greg Abbott signed throughout the common legislative session,” Wittman mentioned.
Nonetheless, Naranjo mentioned, “nobody’s been held accountable [for the grid].”
“What we’d like is extra debates and extra discourse on this governor’s race, and we haven’t even talked about necessary points like well being care, and the truth that now we have a disaster in a nursing scarcity and a disaster in our faculties,” Naranjo mentioned.
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