An Early Look at the 2022 Texas Gubernatorial Race Betting Odds

Texas State Flag

Believe it or not, the 2022 midterm elections are only a little over a year away. The 2020 general election cycle feels like it just ended!  Further proof that wagering on politics has evolved into a year-round pastime.

As such, oddsmakers at the top online betting sites are already handicapping several of what experts predict will be next year’s most competitive races.

One contest garnering substantial levels of early interest – from oddsmakers and politicos alike — is the 2022 Texas gubernatorial election.  Today, forecasts are hazy at best – due mainly to a litany of unknowns concerning the field of candidates.

The Lone Star State will hold its election for governor on November 8; however, we won’t know who’s competing for the executive seat until after the party primaries and subsequent primary runoffs, scheduled for March 1 and May 24, 2022, respectively.

That said, don’t let uncertainties about the race scare you away from betting. Accurately predicting an election more than a year out is a tall task, but that’s why winning futures wagers pay so well!

So, let’s see what the current slate of 2022 Texas gubernatorial election odds has to offer. Three interesting betting options stand out.

2022 Candidate Odds to Win
Greg Abbott -350
Beto O’Rourke +450
Matthew McConaughey +500
Joaquin Castro +3500
Julian Castro +3500
Wendy Davis +3500

(The futures lines featured on this page are imported from Bovada – but you’ll find similar figures for this contest at all of our top-ranked political betting sites.)

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Greg Abbott (-350)

Greg Abbott
By all accounts, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott will soon announce his intention to seek a third term in office in 2022. At -350 moneyline, the incumbent is the clear frontrunner to win reelection in November – and for good reason. He has several key factors working in his favor:

  1. The Democratic Party hasn’t won a statewide race in Texas since 1994.
  2. Incumbents win the vast majority of their reelection campaigns.
  3. The president’s party tends to underperform in midterms. Since WW2, the party in the White House has lost governorships in 16 of the 19 election cycles.

Historical precedent is undoubtedly in Gov. Abbott’s favor – and realistically, he will probably win reelection. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of value in placing an early bet at the -350 price.

That’s too risky without much reward and long twelve months, during which the landscape of the election – and Texas politics as a whole – could be upended entirely by presently unforeseen circumstances.

For now, the smarter play is looking for reasons to fade the incumbent governor.

GOP Primary Challengers

GOP Symbol
Gov. Abbott finds himself in a unique situation ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. History suggests the GOP will pick up congressional and gubernatorial seats, but those statistics only pertain to the head-to-head matchups between Republicans and Democratic candidates in November.

What if the incumbent doesn’t win his party’s primary?

Unlike his previous two campaigns, Abbott will face stiff primary competition for the Republican nomination this time. And the challenges will be coming from conservatives whose ideologies lay further to the right than the governors.

Before he can focus on any Democratic opponents, he must defend his nomination against at least three well-funded Republicans with broad name recognition and a legitimate chance to unseat the incumbent:

Keep an eye on:

  • Chad Prather – a conservative comedian and BlazeTV talk show host.
  • Don Huffines – former Texas state senator who is redirecting blame for the Southern border crisis from President Biden to Gov. Abbott, who has been in office for roughly seven years.
  • Allen West – former Texas Republican Party Chairmen who resigned in June 2021 to challenge for the governorship. He, too, is running from Abbott’s right, criticizing the incumbent’s handling of the pandemic.

Should Gov. Abbott successfully repel his GOP challengers en route to a third consecutive Republican nomination, he will be a prohibitive favorite to win in November. That said, I wouldn’t sleep on Huffins or West. If, or when, betting sites eventually post odds for either of the right-wing challengers, I’ll take a long look at them both.

Beto O’Rourke (+450)

Beto O'Rourke
One name that’s being thrown around as a top Democratic challenger to Abbott’s seat is Beto O’Rourke. The former US Representative for Texas’s 16th congressional district burst onto the national scene in 2018 with a strong – but ultimately unsuccessful – bid for Sen. Ted Cruz’s senate seat.

His presidential campaign two years later was far less impressive and – I would argue – did considerable damage to his public perception. O’Rourke entered the 2020 Democratic primary as a rising star and one of the top-tier contenders for the DNC nomination, but the hype didn’t last long.

Beto was forced to suspend his candidacy in November 2019.

Now, Dem operatives are hoping he’ll re-energize the party’s Texas base.

I’m not too fond of his chances at these odds. Before I put money on O’Rourke, I’d like to see his line move from +450 to somewhere in the +800 range.

Sure, his 2018 campaign showed lots of promise, but that was with Trump in the White House – and he still lost. Now there’s no “orange boogieman” to stir Democratic voters to action.

Gun Control

If Beto O’Rourke wins the Democratic nomination, his campaign will likely be sunk by comments he made in favor of strict gun control laws. After the 2019 El Paso shooting, the former congressman called for an absolute ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

If he’s nominated, the Abbott campaign will plaster the airwaves with quotes like the following, which O’Rourke said during a Democratic primary debate:

“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

That won’t be popular in Texas. Meanwhile, Gov. Abbott recently loosened gun restrictions, making it legal for Texans to carry handguns in public without requiring any permits or training.

In September, a joint poll conducted by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas showed Abbott beating Beto by five points in a head-to-head matchup (Abbott 42%, O’Rourke 37%).

However, there was another potential candidate who fared much better against the incumbent governor…

Matthew McConaughey (+500)

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey is the ultimate wild card in the 2022 Texas gubernatorial race. The same poll in which Gov. Abbott led Beto showed the Oscar-winning actor beating the incumbent by nine points (McConaughey 44%, Abbott 35%)!

McConaughey has expressed interest in running, but it’s unclear if he’d seriously consider a political career. Then there’s the issue of party of affiliation – nobody knows where his ideologies lie!

He could vie for the Democratic nomination – at which point, the actor would be the left’s best chance of unseating Abbott – or he could run as an independent, in which case he’d likely pull more votes away from the Dem candidate than the Republican nominee.

Either way, Matthew McConaughey at +500 is my favorite betting line at the moment. But again, we have a long way to go until November 2022!