Polling shows why looming winter weather triggers Texans' anxieties about the grid, and their doubts about political leaders' response
As the first serious winter storm descends on their state, Texans’ pervasive anxiety about the reliability of the state’s go-it-alone power grid has floated to the surface of public discussion like a North Atlantic iceberg. Weather forecasters and energy mavens assure us that the weather hitting a large swath of the state lacks the severity, duration, or geographic impact of the February 2021 disaster that left hundreds dead, millions of Texas without power in sub-freezing temperatures, and caused billions in damage. Polling we conducted both shortly after the 2021 outages and in the intervening months suggest that the seemingly widespread anxiety about the return of cold weather reflects the pervasive impact of the last storm, as well as a lack of confidence in the state leadership’s measures to ensure the reliability of the grid in the wake of last year’s failures.
While our joint venture with colleagues at the UT Energy Institute focused primarily on research questions related to Texans’ experiences during the winter storm and the infrastructure outages that followed, the results also provide rich context for the legislative wrangling over the appropriate policy response(s) to the storm and the multidimensional politics surrounding it. The data is fresh and there’s more drilling down to be done, but here are some initial impressions, with more to come after the holiday break. You can find all the results and hundreds of graphics on our latest poll page, and if you want to take a look at the questionnaire and topline results or take your own deep dive into the crosstabs (or even the data itself), it can all be found in our polling data archive.