A recent poll issued by CWS Research reported that a majority of Republican voters surveyed would rather vote for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the next presidential election over Greg Abbott.

The poll randomly selected 715 Texans likely to vote in the upcoming state primary elections and asked which candidate they would prefer in the 2024 presidential election if former President Donald Trump did not run. The respondents could select DeSantis, Abbott, another candidate of their choice, or say that they were still undecided.

Of the voters polled, 46 percent said they would choose DeSantis, while only 13 percent selected Abbott. Additionally, 18 percent of respondents preferred a different candidate, and 23 percent were still unsure of who would get their vote.

This survey comes at an inopportune time for Abbott, who has recently faced criticism from many conservative Texans for failing to act in the last legislative session on Republican priorities like child gender modification and border security.

Last week, the American Principles Project began a $1 million campaign focused on urging Abbott to ban child gender modification procedures in the state of Texas. The organization launched an ad on cable and digital platforms that targets Abbott for his failure to pass legislation outlawing the practice.

Abbott has also faced criticism for his response to Texas’ crisis at the southern border. While the state is currently seeing an influx of illegal border crossings, Abbott has yet to implement an effective strategy to tighten security at the border. Additionally, his recent endeavor, Operation Lone Star, has come under fire for its poor treatment of Texas National Guard troops.

Adding to Gov. Abbott’s struggles, Newsweek published an article last month titled “Ron DeSantis Welcomes You to Florida, America’s New Texas.” The piece highlights how many Texas conservatives are calling for Abbott to implement policies similar to those enacted by DeSantis in Florida. According to the article, “there can be no denying the gravitational pull the Sunshine State now has for the American Right.”

To combat these claims of weakness, Abbott appeared with Trump at a rally in Conroe last month, where he expressed his support for the former president and blasted the current administration on gun control and defunding law enforcement. He also capitalized on the recent controversy in public education by releasing a parental bill of rights aiming to “defend the rights of parents, whether it comes to education or health care.”

However, with 96 percent of poll respondents saying they are very likely to vote in the upcoming primary elections, the results of this recent survey may point to further trouble for Abbott if he is unable to convince Texans that he can promote conservative causes as effectively as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Early voting for the Republican primary begins on February 14. Election Day is on March 1.

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.