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The Brief: March 7, 2014

GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott leads his Democratic rival, Wendy Davis, by 12 points among likely voters, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll.

Gubernatorial candidates Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis are shown on primary night on March 4, 2014.

The Big Conversation

GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott leads his Democratic rival, Wendy Davis, by 12 points among likely voters, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll. Fifty-three percent of the respondents backed Abbott, while 41 percent backed Davis. Only 4 percent said they were undecided, a number the polling organization said was surprisingly small at this early a point in the campaign.

The polling organization noted the survey is its first look at the 2014 Texas contest for governor. According to Rasmussen, the poll of 500 likely voters was in the field on Monday and Tuesday, meaning it coincided with the state's party primary contests.

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll of registered voters last month found Abbott with an 11-point advantage over Davis. Rasmussen also identified an early favorability gap between the two candidates that favors Abbott. It wrote: "Davis, at this early juncture, is viewed Very Unfavorably by 34 percent of the state’s voters, compared to just 17 percent who feel that way about Abbott. Thirty-four percent have a Very Favorable opinion of the GOP candidate, while 22 percent view Davis Very Favorably.

"At this point in an election cycle, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers."

That survey also found 55 percent approve of the job that Gov. Rick Perry is doing, while 43 percent disapprove.

Today in the Trib

Texans in D.C. Share Special Sense of Camaraderie: "Despite the capital’s buttoned-up atmosphere, many Texans have flocked here for government posts and lobbying jobs. They are always eager to meet fellow Texans, grab some barbecue and talk about life back home."

Bullet Train Failed Once, but It's Back for Another Go: "As Texas Central Railway works to develop a high-speed rail line connecting Dallas and Houston, its leaders say they expect to avoid the pitfalls that killed a similar project more than 20 years ago."

In Crowded Primaries, Names Can Be Everything: "What's in a name? For some candidates in this week's primaries, including Jim Hogan and Malachi Boyuls, the answer may have been a few thousand votes."

After Five Years, Republicans Still Loving Their Tea: "During its five-year lifetime, the Tea Party has lost some of its original focus on national spending and national debt. But it's hard to win a Republican primary without its support."

Interactive: Where the Votes Landed: "We pulled the county-by-county vote totals for each statewide runoff candidate and analyzed what parts of the state got them there. Use our interactive to compare each candidate's performance."


In Edinburg, Attorney General Greg Abbott talks tacos and Obamacare, McAllen Monitor

Wendy Davis to welcome Obama to TexasUSA Today

Cruz at CPAC: Obama is hammering youth, Clinton would kill the economy, The Dallas Morning News

Falkenberg: Was Tuesday a victory for inclusion?, Houston Chronicle

Valley's last abortion clinic closes, San Antonio Express-News

GOP to tie individual mandate to doc fix, The Hill

State redesigns road to save ancient oak trees, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"We all represent our state. And I think Chris represents his state and, frankly, represents his state well. The issues of this bridge and whether he knew or not, I trust that he is telling us the truth."

— Gov. Rick Perry, talking to CNN about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, frenemy and possible rival for the presidency in 2016

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Sen. Charles Schwertner and Reps. John Raney and Kyle Kacal at Texas A&M University in College Station, 3/27

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

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Explore related story topics

Health care Politics Greg Abbott Michael Burgess Mike Conaway Rick Perry Sarah Davis Wendy Davis