Latest UT/Texas Politics Project Poll finds Texas Republicans’ support for Donald Trump unwavering amidst multiple indictments

Poll summary
Crosstabs

As the 2024 race for the Republican nomination begins to take shape, the August 2023 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll finds Texas Republicans’ continued support for former president Donald Trump evident in several results ranging from general assessments to attitudes toward the criminal indictments against him, the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, and beliefs about the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol led by supporters of the former president.

Overall, 41% of Texas voters reported a favorable view of Trump while 51% had an unfavorable view, with the small remainder offering no opinion. Following the pattern that has persisted since he won the presidency in 2016, partisan views were polarized: 86% of Democrats hold unfavorable views of the former president (81% very unfavorable), while 7% hold a favorable view. Among Republicans, 79% hold a favorable view (55% very favorable), while 15% view Trump unfavorably.

The most recent UT/Texas Politics Project Poll was conducted August 18-29, 2023, with a sample of 1200 self-declared registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.83%. Data collection was carried out by YouGov via the internet. Selected results from the poll related to the impeachment trial of suspended attorney general Ken Paxton were released September 1, and are included in summary documents and compiled results now available on the Texas Politics Project website.

Asked whether the major indictments of Trump were mostly “based on the facts” or “mostly based on politics,” Republicans held remarkably sympathetic views of Trump’s many legal entanglements: 80% or more of Texas Republicans said that politics were the primary basis for the criminal charges against Trump in investigations into his mishandling of classified documents after he left office (80%), his indictment for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results in the U.S. (85%), and in Georgia (83%). A comparatively smaller but still clear majority believe that the charges brought against Trump for illegally paying money to an adult film star were mostly based on politics (70%).

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Mostly based on the facts79%35%10%
Mostly based on politics14%53%85%
Don't know/Unsure6%12%5%

The poll also contained questions about attitudes in major issues on the public agenda in Texas, including public education, immigration and border policy, business engagement of public policy issues, and expectations about property tax rates. It also asked about Texans’ perceptions of discrimination in the U.S., their attention to major issues recently in the news media, and their assessment of various sources of potential threats to the United States. Selected results are presented below – more detailed discussion of results will follow in the coming weeks.

Context of attitudes toward Donald Trump

The poll also revealed signs that Texans continue to share sharply diverging views of the legitimacy of the 2020 election and the January 6 storming of the Capitol, for which several planners and participants have recently been punished with prison terms of varying length.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Strongly agree72%32%10%
Somewhat agree15%11%14%
Somewhat disagree4%8%17%
Strongly disagree2%32%50%
Don't know/No opinion7%17%9%

When asked “Do you think Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election,” 56% said yes while 35% said no, with 9% unsure. Among Republicans, only 21% said they believed Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, while more than two-thirds (69%) disagreed, with 11% unsure. There was near consensus in the opposite direction among Democrats: 93% said Biden’s election was legitimate, while only 7% either didn’t think so (4%) or didn’t know (3%). A plurality of independents acknowledged the legitimacy of Biden’s election (48%), though this was the lowest share of independents expressing this view over the eight UT/TxPP polls asking this question since February 2022 (from a high of 62% in June 2022). Partisans’ views have varied within a very narrow range over the same period.

Border policy

The poll asked Texas voters to assess Texas’ policies on the border with Mexico, including the buoys in the Rio Grande river that a federal judge recently ordered Texas to remove after the state was sued by the federal government. Overall, a majority of Texas voters (52%) supported “placing buoys and barbed wire at the Rio Grande River to deter migration” while 40% were opposed. Among Republicans, 88% supported the policy (73% expressing strong support) and 10% opposed it. Among Democrats, 18% supported the policy and 74% expressed opposition.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Strongly support6%38%73%
Somewhat support12%13%15%
Somewhat oppose12%8%7%
Strongly oppose62%28%3%
Don't know/No opinion8%13%2%

Partisan views were less lopsided when asked about the general policy of “deploying additional state police and military resources to the border” since the initiation of “Operation Lone Star” in 2021. Overall, 64% supported the state’s continued deployment of military and police resources while 29% opposed it. Republican support was nearly unanimous (94% support, 5% opposed). Democratic views were more mixed, with 56% opposed but about a third (34%) supportive.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Strongly support10%43%75%
Somewhat support24%21%19%
Somewhat oppose16%7%3%
Strongly oppose40%17%2%
Don't know/No opinion11%12%1%

The only policy included in the poll that received less than majority support was “separating men from their families when apprehended crossing the border.” A majority, 55%, opposed the practice and 32% supported it; a majority of Republicans supported this policy (55%), though this was the lowest level of support of the five policies included in this section of the poll.

Overall, GOP support for these particular state efforts come at a time of notable skepticism towards immigration and changing demographics in the state. In response to a question asked four times since 2014, 58% of Texas Republicans disagreed with the statement “newcomers from other countries enrich Texas with their hard work and values,” the most disagreement in response to that question recorded in the time series. Asked whether Texas’ increasing racial and ethnic diversity was a cause for optimism or a cause for concern, 52% of GOP voters said that it was a cause for concern, the first time a majority of GOP voters have taken that position in the 14 instances in which that question was asked since June 2019 — and a 12-point increase since the last time the question was asked in August of this year.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Strongly agree37%10%3%
Somewhat agree40%34%29%
Somewhat disagree7%20%31%
Strongly disagree5%19%27%
Don't know/No opinion11%18%9%

Public education

When asked to assess the importance of seven public education priorities that have received both public and legislative attention over the course of the 88th Legislature, Texas voters attributed the highest importance to school safety, the subject of major legislation passed during the regular session of the legislature as well as the source of reported fiscal stress at the district level in some parts of the state. School safety was judged “extremely important” by 60% of registered voters, the only item to be assigned this urgency by more than half of Texans.

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categoryTotal
Extremely important60%
Very important24%
Somewhat important8%
Not very important3%
Not important2%
Don't know/No opinion3%

Below the urgency assigned to school safety, more than 40% judged “curriculum content” (47%), “teacher pay/teacher retention” (45%), and "parental rights" (44%) as extremely important priorities. Still below these in assigned priority were “public school financing” (37%), “facilities and school infrastructure additions or improvements” (28%), and, finally, “vouchers, educational savings accounts (ESA’s), or other 'school choice' legislation” (26%).

Consistent with legislative politics and past UT/TxPP polling, there were major differences in the priorities of Republicans and Democrats. The areas judged “extremely important” by 60% or more of Republican voters included “parental rights” (65%), “school safety” (61%), and “curriculum content” (60%). Among Democrats, two issues crossed the 60% threshold in the same response category: “Teacher pay/teacher retention” (64%) and “school safety” (62%).

Considering the attention paid to “school choice” during the regular session and the expectation that Gov. Abbott will include the subject on a call for a special session before the end of the year, the results provided scant evidence that the issue is a high priority among partisans: only 34% of Republicans considered it “extremely important,” along with 17% of Democrats (last on their list) and 31% of independents.

Early soundings for 2024

The poll asked respondents to provide favorability ratings for a selection of individuals seeking the presidential nomination in 2024, as well as the U.S. Senate seat in Texas. Texas’ primary election is scheduled for March 4, 2024, though the final ballot has not yet been determined.

Republican Presidential Primary

Donald Trump’s favorability ratings and near universal name recognition implied by the small share offering no opinion of the former president compared to other prominent Republican candidates suggest his advantage among the major GOP contenders as the first round of nomination contests get closer. While 67% of Texas Republicans held a favorable view of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, viewed for much of 2023 as the most prominent alternative to Trump, Texas Republicans' views of Donald Trump remain significantly higher, with 79% holding a favorable view of the former president, including a majority, 55%, who hold a “very favorable” view. Vivek Ramaswamy received the next highest share of favorable views from Texas Republicans (51%), followed by South Carolina Senator Tim Scott (49%) and former South Carolina Governor and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley (46%).

The poll also revealed some candidates who will likely find it difficult to gain much traction among Texas’ Republican electorate, including former vice president Mike Pence, who finds himself underwater in his own party (29% favorable compared to 50% holding an unfavorable view), and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (12% favorable, 59% unfavorable).

The table below lists results for favorability ratings among all voters for all those tested. Click on names to see crosstabs by party and other major groups.

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of each of the following?
(August 2023 University of Texas / Texas Politics Project Poll)
  Favorable Unfavorable Net
Donald Trump 41% 51% -10
Ted Cruz 41% 47% -6
Joe Biden 37% 53% -16
Ron DeSantis 35% 45% -10
Kamala Harris 34% 53% -19
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. 34% 30% +4
Tim Scott 29% 25% +4
Vivek Ramaswamy 28% 24% +4
Nikki Haley 27% 36% -9
Gavin Newsom 23% 42% -19
Mike Pence 22% 58% -36
Colin Allred 20% 17% +3
Chris Christie 16% 48% -32
Roland Guttierez 15% 13% +2

 

U.S. Senate

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, who is running for re-election to a third term in 2024, was viewed favorably by 41% of Texas voters and unfavorably by 47%. Sen. Cruz remains one of the most popular Republicans among Texas GOP voters: 77% viewed him favorably and 12% unfavorably — the highest net rating (+65) among the Republican politicians tested, though statistically indistinguishable from Donald Trump (+64).

On the Democratic side, the two most prominent candidates currently, Congressman Colin Allred and State Senator Roland Guitierrez, enjoy predictably lower levels of name recognition. Overall, 20% view Allred favorably and 17% unfavorably; with 34% of Democrats holding a favorable view and 11% an unfavorable view. Fewer Texas voters currently have a view of Senator Gutierrez (15% favorable/13% unfavorable); with 24% of Democrats viewing him favorably and 10% holding an unfavorable view.

Business engagement

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categoryTotal
Good idea25%
Bad idea54%
Don't know/No opinion20%

Asked whether or not it is a good idea for businesses and corporations to take public positions on current political issues, a majority of Texas voters, 54%, thought this was a bad idea. Only a quarter, 25%, said it was a good idea for businesses and corporations to take public positions on political issues. While the state’s Republican voters overwhelmingly expressed the opinion that this was a bad idea (76%), Democratic responses were mixed, with 39% saying it is a good idea for businesses and corporations to take these positions, 34% saying it’s a bad idea, and 27% unsure.

When asked to consider the level of business responsiveness to six different issues, a plurality of voters indicated that businesses were doing too little in all but one area, LGBTQ rights. The plurality, 44%, said that businesses were doing too much, compared to 14% who said they were responding appropriately, and 28% who said they were doing too little.

A majority of Democrats expressed the view that businesses and corporations were doing too little in each issue area, including LGBTQ rights (51%), democracy and voting rights (59%), abortion access (63%), women’s rights (65%), racial discrimination (65%), and climate change (74%).

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Too much7%34%53%
About the right amount10%8%16%
Too little74%41%20%
Don't know/No opinion9%17%11%

Among Republicans, views were more mixed. Majorities expressed the opinion that businesses were doing too much responding to racial discrimination (50%), abortion access (53%), climate change (53%), and LGBTQ rights (75%) — with the share saying businesses were responding too much to the latter increasing by 12 points since December 2022, when 62% said that businesses were doing too much to respond to LGBTQ rights.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Too much16%45%75%
About the right amount21%10%8%
Too little51%22%6%
Don't know/No opinion12%23%12%

Discrimination and demographics

In a battery repeated four times since February 2018, voters were asked about their perception of the amount of discrimination faced by each of 10 groups in the United States today, then were asked which among those groups they feel faces the most discrimination. The new polling finds perceptions of discrimination against people who are transgender to be at an all time high, with 38% of voters saying they face “a lot of discrimination” in America today, higher than any other group. At the same time, asked who faces the most discrimination, voters said African Americans (26%), followed by transgender people (21%), Christians (13%), whites (12%), gays and lesbians (6%), Muslims (6%), women (5%), Hispanics (4%), men (4%), and Asians (2%).

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
African Americans38%20%13%
Transgender people35%21%8%
Christians2%12%25%
Whites1%16%24%
Gays and Lesbians8%10%3%
Muslims3%3%9%
Women7%5%4%
Hispanics5%3%3%
Men1%6%8%
Asians1%4%4%

Nearly three-quarters of Democrats identified either African Americans (38%) or transgender people (35%) as the groups facing the most discrimination in America today, while among Republicans, nearly half said the same of Christians (25%) and white people (24%). Republican voters were nearly three times more likely to say that Christians face “a lot of discrimination” in American today (41%) than to say the same of transgender people (12%) or African Americans (11%); while Democrats were nearly 10 times more likely to say that transgender people face a lot of discrimination (67%) than they were to say the same about Christians (7%).

Threats to the United States

Misinformation (45%) and a declining commitment to democracy (42%) were identified as “extremely serious” threats to the United States by Texas voters, as well as by at least 42% of both Democratic and Republican voters.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Extremely serious45%33%45%
Very serious29%20%25%
Somewhat Serious14%21%14%
Not very serious4%5%6%
Not serious2%7%4%
Don't know/No opinion7%14%6%

Threats that most clearly divided partisans included:

  • Immigration, identified by 37% of all voters as an “extremely serious” threat, including 62% of Republicans but only 13% of Democrats;
  • The power of the federal government, including 36% of all voters, 56% of Republicans and 17% of Democrats; and
  • Climate change, including 36% of all voters, but 59% of Democrats (their top concern) and only 14% of Republicans.

Despite near constant media attention, artificial intelligence was viewed as an extremely serious threat by only 23% of voters (the lowest among the 9 items measured).

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Extremely serious13%36%62%
Very serious13%20%18%
Somewhat Serious25%14%13%
Not very serious27%9%4%
Not serious17%11%2%
Don't know/No opinion4%9%1%

Ukraine

The plurality of Texas voters, 36%, believe the U.S. is doing too much in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with 21% saying the U.S. is doing too little, and 30% saying the U.S. is responding appropriately. This represents the second poll in a row (June 2023) in which the plurality said the U.S. is doing too much, a continuation of a trend away from support for more U.S. involvement over 7 surveys beginning in April 2022.

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PollToo muchToo littleRight Amount
Apr. 202215%39%29%
June 202228%27%25%
Dec. 202229%22%34%
Feb. 202330%21%32%
Apr. 202332%21%32%
June 202335%22%30%
Aug. 202336%21%30%
Oct. 202337%19%31%
Dec. 202333%19%33%
Apr. 202428%26%31%
June 202432%24%30%

General assessments

A majority of voters, 55%, say the state is on the wrong track, compared to only a third (33%) who say the state is headed in the right direction. National assessments are worse, with 68% saying the country is on the wrong track compared to only 22% who say the country is heading in the right direction.

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PollRight DirectionWrong Track
October 200938%39%
February 201043%37%
May 201045%38%
September 201043%38%
October 201045%37%
February 201141%41%
May 201136%48%
October 201139%43%
February 201243%38%
May 201238%42%
October 201243%34%
February 201345%39%
June 201350%32%
October 201342%39%
February 201445%35%
June 201449%33%
October 201448%35%
February 201550%30%
June 201550%32%
November 201545%36%
February 201642%37%
June 201641%38%
October 201642%40%
February 201746%36%
June 201743%40%
October 201743%40%
February 201848%36%
June 201846%37%
October 201850%35%
February 201949%35%
June 201949%34%
October 201947%35%
February 202049%37%
April 202043%43%
June 202041%47%
October 202041%44%
February 202139%41%
March 202141%46%
April 202142%42%
June 202141%43%
August 202135%52%
October 202140%48%
February 202240%46%
April 202239%51%
June 202231%59%
August 202236%52%
October 202237%50%
December 202239%46%
February 202335%51%
April 202337%50%
June 202338%49%
August 202333%55%
October 202337%50%
December 202338%49%
February 202444%44%
April 202443%45%
June 202441%48%

Texans continue to say that inflation and prices (17%) or the economy (11%) are the most important issues facing the country. Reflecting that, pluralities or majorities of all voters say that the national economy (54%), state economy (41%), and their personal economic situation (45%) are worse compared to one year ago. Republican voters hold particularly negative views about the economy, with 77% saying the national economy is worse compared to last year, 42% (a plurality) saying the same about Texas, and 58% saying the same about their own personal finances.

Within this context, Governor Abbott finds himself in familiar job approval territory, with 45% of voters approving of his job performance and 45% disapproving — marked by overwhelming approval from Texas Republicans (81%) and disapproval from Texas’ Democratic Party voters (78%).

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PollApproveDisapproveNeither/Don't Know
November 201542%29%28%
February 201641%29%30%
June 201642%31%27%
October 201642%33%25%
February 201745%33%23%
June 201745%38%16%
October 201748%33%19%
February 201846%31%23%
June 201847%36%18%
October 201852%32%17%
February 201951%32%17%
June 201951%31%18%
October 201952%28%21%
February 202048%34%18%
April 202056%32%13%
June 202049%39%13%
October 202047%40%14%
February 202146%39%15%
March 202145%43%11%
April 202143%45%13%
June 202144%44%11%
August 202141%50%9%
October 202143%48%10%
February 202244%42%15%
April 202247%41%13%
June 202243%46%12%
August 202246%44%10%
October 202247%44%9%
December 202249%41%8%
February 202346%43%12%
April 202346%41%12%
June 202347%42%12%
August 202345%45%10%
October 202349%40%10%
December 202348%41%11%
February 202453%37%10%
April 202455%37%10%
June 202450%39%11%

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, recently thrust into a new position as judge overseeing the trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton, finds himself underwater after two polls in April and June that found more voters approving than disapproving of his job performance. As of August, 35% approve of the job Patrick is doing, while 40% disapprove. After sitting in the mid-60s during the previous two surveys, disapproval among Democrats creeped back up to 70%, while approval among Republicans has declined from 72% in April, to 66% in June, to 62% as of August.

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PollApproveDisapproveNeither/Don't Know
November 201529%26%44%
February 201627%27%46%
June 201631%30%39%
October 201631%31%38%
February 201732%31%38%
June 201734%36%29%
October 201736%31%32%
February 201836%33%31%
June 201836%34%30%
October 201844%31%25%
February 201942%31%26%
June 201941%31%29%
October 201939%32%29%
February 202039%35%25%
April 202040%36%24%
June 202039%38%23%
October 202037%37%25%
February 202137%36%27%
March 202137%37%27%
April 202135%39%26%
June 202136%37%27%
August 202133%42%25%
October 202135%39%25%
February 202233%34%32%
April 202237%36%26%
June 202235%40%25%
August 202238%37%25%
October 202237%39%24%
December 202243%36%21%
February 202338%39%22%
April 202342%36%23%
June 202338%35%27%
August 202335%40%26%
October 202340%35%25%
December 202340%34%26%
February 202442%34%24%
April 202444%33%24%
June 202439%34%28%

Results related to the Attorney General were released earlier this week, but in short, he saw a significant decline in his job approval ratings. Overall, 27% approve of the job he has done as Attorney General while 46% disapprove (an all-time high disapproval rating), including disapproval from 57% of independents and 23% of Republicans (both all-time highs in the time series).

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categoryApproveDisapproveDon't know
Apr. 202132%36%31%
June 202133%36%32%
Aug. 202135%38%28%
Oct. 202135%37%28%
Feb. 202232%35%33%
Apr. 202234%36%30%
June 202234%39%27%
Aug. 202237%38%25%
Oct. 202236%39%26%
Dec. 202241%37%21%
Feb. 202335%38%26%
Apr. 202339%35%26%
June 202330%41%28%
Aug. 202327%46%28%
Oct. 202332%42%25%
Dec. 202335%38%26%
Feb. 202441%37%22%
Apr. 202441%35%24%

OTHER JOB APPROVAL RATINGS

The latest University of Texas / Texas Politics Project Poll was conducted August 18-29 among 1,200 self-identified registered voters in Texas. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/- 2.83%. See the Texas Politics Project Data Archive for a full methodological statement on this, and all other, University of Texas / Texas Politics Project Polls.

For more detailed results on results related to Ken Paxton and his impeachment and trial, see these related posts.

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