Texas Public Attitudes Toward Ted Cruz and the Politics of Repeal & Replace

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categoryTotal
Approve strongly21%
Approve somewhat17%
Neither approve nor disapprove12%
Disapprove somewhat9%
Disapprove strongly35%
Don't know6%

 As the Fourth of July fireworks fade into memory and attention turns back to the political morass that is the GOP effort to make some tangible progress on their seven year promise to repeal Obamacare (without substantially reducing the increased access to healthcare that the Affordable Care Act provided), across the country the political press ponders the meaning of Ted Cruz's high-profile efforts to find a path to 50 votes in the Senate. The details of Cruz's effort have yet to be fully revealed – at this writing, the actual language of Cruz's effort to create more choice in insurance markets hasn't been released – though reliable early analysis suggest the creation of a bifurcated insurance market, with at least one community rated plan (i.e. one price for everyone) and, likely significantly less expensive, individually priced plans. Many expect the approach to generate (more) bad news from the CBO, given how this infusion of choice can be expected to play out in the insurance market.  Nor is it likely to sway Republican moderates in the coalition -- a response foreshadowed by the receptive response of Cruz's conservative allies in the Senate.

Should reports of Cruz's approach to the problem prove accurate, it is likely to be in tune with his base of support in Texas – whether it succeeds or not. Cruz's job overall approval numbers in his home state continue to reflect his undisguised attempts to cater to GOP voters, especially the most conservative ones who dominate GOP primaries, as captured in the June 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

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categoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Approve strongly3%15%41%
Approve somewhat4%16%29%
Neither approve nor disapprove9%15%13%
Disapprove somewhat9%12%8%
Disapprove strongly66%36%5%
Don't know8%5%5%

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categoryDemocratRepublicanTea Party
Approve strongly2%31%62%
Approve somewhat5%28%26%
Neither approve nor disapprove6%19%5%
Disapprove somewhat9%10%6%
Disapprove strongly72%5%1%
Don't know5%7%0%

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categoryThe Bible is the word of God, to be taken literallyThe Bible is the word of God, not to be taken literallyThe Bible is a book written by men
Approve strongly30%25%6%
Approve somewhat22%21%6%
Neither approve nor disapprove15%12%6%
Disapprove somewhat7%11%6%
Disapprove strongly20%25%73%
Don't know7%6%3%

Like everyone else, Cruz must manage cross currents in public opinion, even among his secure base, when it comes to wading into the health care debate. In the June UT/TT poll, the GOP catechism that requires the repeal of Obama care is very much in evidence:

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categoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Repeal it18%53%83%
Don't Repeal it67%25%7%
Don't know15%22%10%

The aftermath of "repeal"  is more complicated, and underlines two things: The meaning of "repeal" in this context is becoming increasingly obscure – and in some senses, Republicans and Democrats might find things MUCH easier if there was some agreement to just stop using the term Obamacare.

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categoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Repeal the law and replace it with an alternative63%77%65%
Repeal the law and don't replace it35%20%30%
Don't know1%2%5%

As earlier poll results both nationally and in Texas have illustrated, many of those who reflexively reject Obamacare nonetheless embrace the key results of the ACA, especially guaranteed coverage of those with pre-existing conditions, and the preservation of coverage for at least some of those who were previously uninsured in days before the ACA. In Texas, only 30 percent of registered Republican voters favor repeal without a replacement (per the February 2017 UT/TT Poll).  Even a majority of Tea Party identifiers, albeit it a slim one, prefer "repeal and replace" to repealing without a replacement.

Cruz's proposal -- to the extent that it appears to provide "choice," potentially undermines the exchanges created by Obamacare, even as it provides a free-market fig leaf for an eventual increase in those who can't afford insurance -- is likely to achieve at least some of the political ends he seeks. Cruz re-enters the national stage as a conservative part of the Republican majority now in control of all three branches of government after his initial role as chief bomb thrower of the "party of no" conservative anarchists. As a policy move, it seems unlikely to solve the problems that need to be solved within the rubric of the "repeal and replace" approach. As a political move, even should it fall away as another in a long line of failed efforts, it will resonate with conservative voters seeking to somehow untie the Gordian knot that "repeal and replace" has become as Cruz prepares for his 2018 re-election campaign in Texas -- and his next act in 2020.

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categoryDemocratRepublicanTea Party
Repeal the law and replace it with an alternative70%70%54%
Repeal the law and don't replace it28%26%42%
Don't know1%4%4%