Has Texas Turned on Greg Abbott?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was met with boos and jeers when he arrived in Uvalde on Sunday, days after the deadliest school shooting in the state's history.

"We need change, governor," a man can be heard shouting in a video of the moment that has since gone viral.

Abbott, a Republican, has faced heavy criticism since an 18-year-old gunman with an AR-15-style rifle opened fire inside Robb Elementary School on May 24, killing 19 children and two teachers.

Abbott skipped a National Rifle Association's convention in Houston and headed to Uvalde amid mounting criticism for loosening gun laws after Texas experienced a string of mass shootings in recent years.

Beto O'Rourke, the former congressman running against Abbott in the state's gubernatorial race, has led the charge, slamming him for "doing nothing" to prevent carnage in his state.

"This is on you," the Democrat told Abbott, after crashing a press conference last week.

"Abbott should have acted after Sutherland Springs, after Santa Fe, after Midland-Odessa, after El Paso. He refused. Let's vote him out and get to work saving lives," O'Rourke tweeted on Sunday, referring to other Texas shootings of recent years.

But while O'Rourke is hoping the Uvalde shooting shakes up the governor's race, it remains to be seen whether it has the impact he is hoping for in deep red Texas where gun culture looms large.

Even if Texans have soured on Abbott, it may not be enough for voters to oust him and elect a Democrat in November

He has twice been elected Texas governor by a landslide, while a Democrat hasn't won Texas' governorship since 1990. Democrats have been also shut out of statewide office since 1994.

Recent polling shows O'Rourke faces an uphill battle to unseat Abbott. A poll by the Dallas Morning News released in mid-May shows O'Rourke trailing in the polls with 39 percent compared to Abbott's 46 percent.

And while polling on the governor's race in Texas conducted since the shooting hasn't been released yet, bookmakers say O'Rourke's chances of defeating Abbott in November remain slim even after the massacre.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott arrives in Uvalde
Texas Governor Greg Abbott arrives while US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 29, 2022. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

However, some experts believe more Texas voters could back the idea that the only way to prevent future massacres is to get rid of politicians perceived to be in thrall to the gun lobby.

O'Rourke's actions are "turning attention to Texans' actual views on gun control that may not square with the 100 percent NRA-certified platitudes of Abbott," Mark Shanahan, an associate professor at the Department of Politics and International Relations at Reading University in the U.K., previously told Newsweek.

"Between now and then he will be telling Texans at every opportunity that the only opportunity for change that may halt future Uvaldes is to get rid of politicians perceived to be in the pocket of the gun lobby—a lobby that represents fewer and fewer Texans."