Texas AG in dead heat with surging Democratic challenger

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton leads Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza by only two percentage points among registered voters, according to the latest poll released Sunday by UT Tyler and the Dallas Morning News.  

Paxton is polling at 34 percent to Garza’s 32 percent, while eight percent said they support Libertarian candidate Mark Ash. Twenty-five percent said they support someone else or weren’t sure. 

The results of the poll indicate that Paxton has lost significant support from independent voters in just the past few months: 50 percent of registered independents polled said they disapprove of Paxton’s job performance—a nine-point drop from independents’ responses to the same question in May. 

As Paxton’s support with independents wanes, Garza continues to make inroads, staking out a five-point lead over Paxton among independents, according to Sunday’s poll. These voters could be the deciding factor in the race for attorney general as they make up the largest chunk of undecided voters, the Dallas Morning News reported.  

The impetus behind the attorney general’s bleeding support remains unknown. Paxton came into the race a strong favorite despite a number of ongoing and well-documented legal entanglements. The Republican incumbent was indicted for alleged securities fraud in 2015, though the case has never gone to trial. Paxton is also the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation stemming from allegations made by former staffers that he abused his powers in favor of a campaign donor since late 2020.  

Though he’s remained largely unscathed by either matter so far. Mark Owens, UT Tyler political scientist and director of the poll, said Paxton’s legal problems may be causing his support to drop amongst undecided and independent voters. “What Paxton is seeing is a real challenge of getting the swing voters and independent voters in Texas, against someone who might be a new face to Texas politics and is talking about bringing change to Austin,” Owens told the Dallas Morning News.  

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