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Y’all-itics: Inside Gov. Greg Abbott’s political machine, why Abbott never worried about Beto O'Rourke

In new episode of Y'all-itics, Dave Carney, Abbott’s long-time political consultant, explains how he would have managed Beto O’Rourke’s campaign differently.

DALLAS — In the end, it wasn’t even close.

Beto O’Rourke “ran a very boring, unremarkable, hapless campaign. If I had $90 million and I was running against Greg Abbott, I would have made the race much, much closer,” said Dave Carney, Gov. Greg Abbott’s long-time political consultant, in a new episode of Y’all-itics.

Last week, Abbott decisively won a third term as Texas Governor with 55% of the vote against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke’s 44%.

In this episode of Y’all-itics, Carney offers a rare look inside the governor’s re-election campaign.

Carney is legendary in Texas Republican politics. He worked for former Texas Governor Rick Perry and the late President George H.W. Bush. He has also guided Abbott through each of his three gubernatorial wins.

Carney explains why he never worried about Beto O’Rourke, how he would have managed O’Rourke’s campaign differently, why there’s only one gubernatorial debate, the good and bad of polling, why the independent voter wields the real power, and how Abbott’s team knows exactly which voter to target with their political ads.

Explaining why he thinks Abbott defeated O’Rourke, Carney said “the exit polls showed the majority of Texas thought that Beto was too extreme for Texas. Two, he was underwater, meaning more people had an unfavorable opinion of him than a favorable opinion of him throughout the entire campaign, and they never did anything to try to get him back on the right track with voters.”

This was not Abbott’s first double-digit win as Texas Governor. In 2014, he defeated former state senator Wendy Davis by 20 points. Four years later, Abbott defeated former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez by 13 points.

Last week, O’Rourke finished about the same as Lupe Valdez – behind Abbott by 11-points. That finaly tally is especially remarkable because O’Rourke is much better known, and a prolific fundraiser compared to Valdez.

Credit: WFAA

From late February through June, O’Rourke brought in the most money that a candidate for statewide office has ever raised in a single reporting period. But Carney argues that O’Rourke did not spend it wisely and never clearly defined policy proposals to counter Abbott.

This episode is an ‘Ask Me Anything’ with one of the GOP’s veteran consultants. And to top it off, Carney said his team already started work on Abbott’s 2026 gubernatorial campaign. 2026. Seriously.

O’Rourke’s campaign has a call with reporters scheduled for Monday, November 12.

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