September 29, 2022

Texas voters and political candidates are not on the same page

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As early voting in the party primaries began this week, you might think most voters were focused on power grid outages, which books and lessons should be thrown out or kept in public schools, who should wear masks and where and when they should wear them.


New poll from the University of Texas at Austin finds voters across the state in familiar mindsets, Republicans worried about border security and immigration, Democrats over COVID-19 and political leadership/ of corruption and voters of the two main parties in total disagreement on Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

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At least the voters are consistent.

Texans have opinions about the people on the ballot and the burning issues. It’s just that many of the topics these candidates want to talk about aren’t what voters say are most important.

Democratic candidates pushing for last year’s power grid failure in Texas have work to do: Only 5% of Democratic voters cited it as the most important issue facing the state. Overall, 3% of all voters put him at the top of the list. Political corruption/leadership (18%) and COVID-19 (16%) were the top two choices for Democratic voters.

But the big issues of the Republican candidates leading the statewide ballot — immigration and border security — still resonate with Texans, with a combined total of 31% of all voters. That includes 58% of Republican voters, the group GOP candidates are courting right now.

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Voters have opinions about things candidates talk abouteven if these are not on the “most important issues” lists.

Requiring people to wear masks in indoor public places has the support of 62% of all voters. It’s partisan: 95% of Democrats support mask requirements and 65% of Republicans oppose them. And 61% of all voters support requiring students and staff to wear masks on campus, including 91% Democrats and 66% Republicans.

Republicans (64%) are more confident than Democrats (46%) that new Legislature laws will prevent the kinds of utility disruptions that hit the state in the winter of 2021.

Most Texans (62%) oppose efforts to remove books from school libraries. They are divided on whether parents have enough influence over what their children learn. Fifty percent oppose limiting the use of educational materials that “emphasize racism in United States history.”

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A 53% majority opposes an automatic ban on all abortions in Texas if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, and 43% would make the current Texas abortion law less stringent. But 23% would leave the current law – which bans the procedure after a fetal pulse is detected, usually at around six weeks of pregnancy – in place. And another 23% would make the law stricter.

Former President Trump remains one of the most polarizing figures in Texas politics, matched only by Biden, his successor. Among Republicans, 81% have a favorable opinion of Trump; 78% of Democrats have an unfavorable opinion. And while 76% of Democrats say Biden is doing a good job, 91% of Republicans disapprove of his work.

Two-thirds of Texas voters said the country was on the wrong track. Four years ago, the last time the highest offices in state were on the ballot, only 50% said the country was on the wrong track. There’s a Democrat in the White House now; he was a Republican four years ago. And four years ago, when Barack Obama was president, a February 2014 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll found 63% of Texans thought the country was on the wrong track.

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More than half expect to see more political violence in the United States in the future (54%). Most (53%) think Biden “legitimately won the 2020 presidential election,” but winners were more likely to believe him than losers: 91% of Democrats called him legitimate, while 67% of Republicans don’t think he won legitimately.

Overall, 51% said protesters on the US Capitol in January 2021 were “trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.” This group included 82% Democrats and 25% Republicans; 8% of Democrats disagreed, along with 62% of Republicans.

Finally, as the state braced for early voting (the poll was conducted Jan. 28-Feb. 7), Texans’ view of American democracy was bleak.

Fifty-five percent of Texas voters said democracy in the United States worked somewhat, very, or extremely poorly; 36% said it worked well. Just under half said democracy in Texas worked well, but 41% said it worked poorly.

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These numbers have a lot to do with who won and who lost in 2020.

Democrats and Republicans voted in the same elections in 2020, but Democrats, who won national elections, were more likely to say that American democracy works, and Republicans, who won state elections, were more likely likely to say that democracy works in Texas. .

Another test of their faith began this week.