Political drama

Matthew McConaughey trumps Gov. Greg Abbott in new poll of Texas voters

Matthew McConaughey trumps Gov. Greg Abbott in poll of Texas voters

Matthew McConaughey University of Texas Austin longhorn hook em
UT's Minister of Culture could be a heavy hitter in the Texas governor's race. University of Texas at Austin/Facebook

In a made-for-Hollywood scenario, actor Matthew McConaughey would beat Republican incumbent Greg Abbott in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup for governor, a new poll shows.

The Dallas Morning News/University of Texas at Tyler poll, released April 18, finds that McConaughey enjoys the support of 45 percent of registered voters in Texas, compared with 33 percent for Abbott and 22 percent for “someone else” in a race for governor.

McConaughey, a resident of Austin and a native of Uvalde, has toyed with the idea of running for governor next year, while Abbott has his sights set on claiming a third four-year term as the state’s chief executive.

At this point, it’s unclear whether McConaughey will throw his hat in the ring. Also, he hasn’t made clear whether he’s a Democrat, Republican, or independent. But McConaughey certainly must be encouraged by Texans’ support of his potential bid for governor, particularly among Democratic voters.

Given three choices for governor, 66 percent of Democrats, 44 percent of independents, and 30 percent of Republicans favored McConaughey in the poll. For Abbott, the breakdown was 46 percent among Republicans, 28 percent among independents, and 8 percent among Democrats.

The third option, “someone else,” garnered 28 percent support from independents, 26 percent from Democrats, and 14 percent from Republicans.

The poll, conducted April 6-13, surveyed 1,126 registered voters.

“Matthew McConaughey gets a huge boost from tremendous name recognition and recognition for what he does to help Texans and add to the celebration of the state’s successes,” Mark Owens, a UT-Tyler political scientist who directed the poll, tells The Dallas Morning News. “Most of our survey respondents know his story, but many are waiting to see how he opens his next chapter.”

Mark Harp, a conservative independent voter from the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Midlothian, tells the Dallas newspaper that McConaughey’s appeal is similar to Trump’s: He’s a political outsider with a message that the system is corrupt, ineffective, and ripe for reforms.

“He’s popular, he’s colorful, and he’s not afraid to tell it like it is,” says Harp, a 47-year-old a construction manager. “He has some of the same qualities of Donald Trump, and that will play well in Texas.”