Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke Prepare for Texas Gubernatorial Debate – Election Is the Closest Seen in 20 Years

Toby Hazlewood

Will debate bring O'Rourke closer or extend Abbott's lead?
Republican and Democrat SymbolsShutterstock

On Friday September 30, incumbent Republican Governor of Texas Greg Abbott will debate his Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke. The debate is likely to be the only one before votes are cast, and it will be televised across the state.

Stakes are high, with the margin between the two candidates closer than has been seen in a gubernatorial election in Texas in over 20 years. While most polls put Abbott ahead by between 5 and 11 percentage points, there's a sense that the election is Abbott's to lose rather than for O'Rourke to win.

However, it's entirely possible that O'Rourke could 'go for broke' during the debate and either win-over audiences, or draw Abbott into errors that cost him votes.

Abbott focusing on his base

In recent weeks, Abbott has had plenty of opportunity to build his credibility amongst his base of voters, both in taking definitive action over issues that matter to them and in gaining publicity while doing so.

The ongoing southern border immigration crisis and Abbott's Operation Lone Star have ensured that Abbott receives media coverage for doing what he can to resolve the issue and deal with the mass influx of immigrants crossing the border. Earlier this week, Abbott boasted of the 11000+ immigrants that have been transported to so-called sanctuary cities in Democrat-led states.

Before Hurricane Ian struck Florida, the Sunshine State's Governor Ron DeSantis also brought the border crisis under the national spotlight after Florida taxpayer dollars were used to fly 50 Venezuelan immigrants to Martha's Vineyard from Texas.

For Texans concerned about the effects of the border crisis, Abbott will continue to win hearts and minds as he takes action, even if critics have pointed out the danger of using humans like pawns in a game to prove a point.

O'Rourke likely to provoke Abbott on emotive subjects

With little to lose, it seems likely that O'Rourke will focus his attentions on subjects that could provoke emotional and passionate reactions from Greg Abbott - such as gun control and the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to end constitutional protections for abortion.

These are topics of great importance to Democrats, and with the horrors of the Uvalde school shooting still fresh in the minds of many voters, these may be topics that O'Rourke uses to provoke Abbott into responses that may yet motivate more voters to choose Democrat over Republican.

Time will tell who comes out of the debate on top, but with the margin between the two candidates still relatively close, the election is far from a foregone conclusion.

Will you be watching the Texas gubernatorial debate between Abbott and O'Rourke? Do you think that O'Rourke stands a chance of overturning Abbott's hold on Texas at this point? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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