Will Beto O'Rourke Capitalize on Matthew McConaughey Withdrawing From Texas Governor Race?

Matthew McConaughey may have given Beto O'Rourke a boost in his bid to become governor of Texas after the Oscar-winning actor announced he will not be running.

The Dallas Buyers Club and Interstellar star confirmed that he will not throw his hat into the ring and challenge Greg Abbott to become the next Texas Governor in a video posted on Twitter Sunday night.

McConaughey has been flirting with the idea to move into politics for a number of weeks without specifying which party he would run under, if any, nor laying out any specific policies.

Despite this, early polling suggested he would be a valid candidate.

In November, a poll conducted by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler, found that voters favored McConaughey over Abbott by eight points and over O'Rourke by more than 20 points.

Instead of running, McConaughey said he now intends to "work and invest the bounty I have" by supporting entrepreneurs, businesses and foundations to help people in their lives.

"As a simple kid born in the little town of Uvalde, Texas, it never occurred to me that I would one day be considered for political leadership," McConaughey said.

"It's a humbling and inspiring path to ponder. It is also a path that I'm choosing not to take at this moment."

O'Rourke, who failed in his 2018 Senate run against Texas Republican Ted Cruz and also ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, will be hoping the narrowing of the field of candidates following McConaughey's announcement will play in his favor.

According to the The Dallas Morning News survey, 43 percent of potential voters in Texas said they would likely support McConaughey over Abbott if he ran, compared to 37 percent who said they would choose O'Rourke over the current governor.

The poll also found 49 percent of voters would more likely support McConaughey over O'Rourke, with the actor coming in second place ahead of O'Rourke and behind Abbott in a ranking of preferences for Governor of Texas.

According to Irish betting company Paddy Power, O'Rourke's chances of becoming governor have almost halved from 7/1 into 4/1 following McConaughey's withdrawal.

The decision also looks to favor Abbott, with Paddy Power now increasing his chances of winning next year from 83.3 percent to 87.5 percent.

"After months of flirting with the idea, Matthew McConaughey broke many hearts when he officially confirmed he won't be running for Texas governor," a spokesperson for Paddy Power told Newsweek.

"Few could compete with the popularity of a world famous Academy Award winning actor, but now that he's officially stepped aside, we have slashed the odds on Beto O'Rourke's chances from 7/1 into 4/1.

"However, Republican incumbent Greg Abbott maintains his position as the star of this show, with our hot favorite for the post seeing his odds on price improving from 1/5 to even shorter odds of 1/7 as a result of the Hollywood A-lister ruling himself out."

Before he announced he would not be running, other polls suggested that McConaughey's vague political stances did not help him appeal to other voters, with O'Rourke also hoping he can help persuade those who have not yet made their minds up about next November's election.

Another poll conducted in September by Quinnipiac University found that nearly half (49 percent) of those taking part in the survey said they do not think McConaughey would make a good governor, with 26 percent saying they had not formed an opinion of him yet.

According to a November poll from the University of Texas at Austin and The Texas Tribune, nearly a third—29 percent—of potential voters had neither a favorable or unfavorable opinion of McConaughey, with 24 percent saying they had an unfavorable impression of him.

The survey also placed Abbott in a substantial lead in the polls over O'Rourke.

According to the poll of registered voters, 46 percent said they would back Abbott if the polls were held today, compared to 37 percent for O'Rourke.

Only seven percent said they would consider someone beyond Abbott and O'Rourke, with 10 percent saying that they have no opinion yet.

James Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, told The Texas Tribune that O'Rourke's current nine point deficit against Abbott "is as good a starting point as Democrats are gonna get."

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey, who is beating Beto O'Rourke in the polls, announced on Sunday that he’s decided against a run for Texas governor. Getty Images for Global Citizen / Ron Jenkins/Getty Images