New University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll: Trump maintains 48%-40% lead over Biden in head-to-head Texas match-up

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The latest University of Texas / Texas Politics Project Poll finds Donald Trump maintaining a comfortable lead over President Joe Biden in Texas as the legally embattled former president seeks to replace the man who defeated him four years ago. In a five-way trial ballot, Trump leads Biden by 9 points, 45% to 36%, followed by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. with 8%, and Cornel West and Jill Stein with 2% each. In a hypothetical head-to-head contest between the former and current residents of the White House, Trump leads by 8 points, 48% to 40%. 

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categoryTotal
Joe Biden36%
Donald Trump45%
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.8%
Cornel West2%
Jill Stein2%
Haven’t thought about it enough to have an opinion7%

In the race for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Ted Cruz, the two-term incumbent leads his Democratic challenger Colin Allred 46% to 33%, with 7% preferring an unnamed alternative and 15% expressing no preference.

The poll was conducted April 12-22, 2024, among 1200 registered voters. The results have a margin of error of +/- 2.83% (+/- 3.26% adjusted for weighting). Data was collected via the internet by YouGov.

Doubts about the legitimacy of the outcome in 2020, and about both candidates in the rematch of the last election, hover over the Presidential race.

A third of voters (33%), composed mostly of a majority of Republicans (61%), don’t think Biden “legitimately won the 2020 presidential election,” though a majority overall, 56%, accept the legitimacy of Biden’s victory — responses that have varied little in a dozen UT/TxPP polls conducted since February 2022. 

More Biden (42%) than Trump supporters (29%) say they have concerns about their preferred candidate. Age dominates Biden-supporters’ concerns: in an open-ended question, 63% of concerned Biden supporters mentioned age-related issues as their chief worry about his candidacy followed at a distance by concerns about his handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict (10%) and the economy (8%).

No single reservation similarly prevails among concerned Trump supporters. The former president’s legal issues were most frequently cited (18%), followed by his personality, the amount of resistance to his agenda, and his unpredictable utterances (each mentioned by 13% of Trump supporters who expressed concern about his candidacy). Biden is 82 years old and Trump is 78, but a comparatively smaller share of Trump supporters expressed concerns about his age (7%).

These doubts notwithstanding, the poll found little indication of any weakening in partisan allegiances to the candidates, with 85% of Democrats and 90% of Republicans expressing support for their party’s standard bearer in the 2-way match-up.

Amidst headline-grabbing protests at higher education institutions in Texas and across the country, the poll found a plurality of Texans (35%) looking for the U.S. to balance support for Israel with the prevention of Palestinian civilian casualties. However, the plurality who favored a balanced U.S. response was statistically equal to the combined total of those who favored a response primarily supporting Israel's military efforts (22%) or primarily working to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties (14%). And nearly a third of Texans either thought the U.S. shouldn’t be involved in the conflict (16%) or didn’t offer an opinion (14%). The poll was conducted before the most recent protests at UT Austin and other Texas universities.

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Primarily be working to support Israeli military efforts.22%
Primarily be working to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties.14%
Be working to balance support for Israeli military efforts AND the prevention of Palestinian civilian casualties.35%
Not be involved in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.16%
Don’t know/No opinion14%

The statewide poll of registered voters found that immigration and border security were identified as the most important problem facing the state by the largest share of voters (39%), followed by the economy and inflation (15%) and political corruption and leadership (10%). Among Republicans, immigration and border security were dominant concerns (62%), followed at a distance by the economy and inflation (14%). Democratic concerns, following a recurring pattern in the UT/TxPP polling, were not dominated by a single issue. A fifth of Democrats (20%) said political corruption/leadership was the state’s biggest problem, followed by inflation and the economy (15%), immigration and border security (13%), and abortion and gun violence (9% each).

The poll explored Texas voters’ attitudes about prominent issues likely to dominate the presidential campaigns in the coming months, including abortion, border and immigration policy, and the economy.

Abortion access and policy: In the wake of Texas' de facto ban on abortion in most circumstances in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, a plurality of Texans, 45%, say that state abortion laws should be made less strict, while 23% want them left as they are. A fifth (20%) would make them more strict, while 12% had no opinion.

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categoryTotal
More strict20%
Left as they are now23%
Less strict45%
Don’t know/No opinion12%

  • Amidst ongoing attention to the difficulties encountered by pregnant women seeking treatment for pregnancy-related health problems, a plurality of Texas voters (42%) said that Texas state government was doing too little to “protect the rights of women who are pregnant.” About a third (31%) thought the state was doing the right amount, 10% said the state was doing too much, and 17% offered no opinion.
  • Relevant to ongoing discussions about the policy implications of state laws establishing constitutional rights at conception for emergency healthcare for women and fertility measures like in-vitro fertilization, 40% agreed that “Constitutional rights should be granted at conception,” while 36% disagreed and nearly a quarter (24%) were undecided.
  • When asked to make more specific judgments about when during a pregnancy, and under what circumstances, women should be able to obtain a legal abortion, most Texas voters demonstrated a clear tendency to consider both timing and context in their judgments. Only 7% said women should never be able to obtain a legal abortion if their “health is seriously endangered.” In comparison, 45% said that in such a situation abortion should be an option “at any time during the pregnancy.”
  • Among the groups most likely to favor abortion restrictions, pluralities of both Republicans and those voters who indicated that Constitutional rights and protections should begin at conception indicated that women should have some legal access to abortion for at least some of their pregnancy in four circumstances: if their health is seriously endangered, if their pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or if there is a strong chance of a serious birth defect.
  • Two-thirds of Texas voters (66%) disagreed when asked if a woman who has an abortion should face criminal penalties such as fines or jail, including 79% of Democrats, 72% of independents, and the majority, 55%, of Republicans.

Border security and immigration policy: With immigration and border policy remaining at the center of the presidential election (and even the lingering primary run-offs in Texas legislative races), a plurality of Texans view the number of migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border as a crisis (48%), with another 23% saying it is a very serious problem, but not a crisis. Only 8% of Texas voters say the number of migrants crossing the border is not much of a problem.

The economy: Texas voters continue to express tepid evaluations of the economy. Overall, 48% say that the national economy is worse off compared to last year with only 28% saying the national economy is doing better; 33% rate the state economy as worse than last year’s, with 25% rating it better; while 41% rate their personal economic situation as worse compared to last year, with 25% rating it better. 

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PollBetterSame Compared to a Year AgoWorse
October 200917%39%43%
February 201017%41%41%
May 201020%42%38%
September 201020%39%40%
October 201019%38%41%
February 201120%45%35%
May 201118%40%41%
October 201116%40%43%
February 201220%45%34%
May 201219%48%32%
October 201223%43%34%
June 201325%44%30%
October 201322%41%35%
February 201425%43%31%
June 201427%42%29%
October 201427%42%30%
February 201527%44%28%
June 201526%48%24%
November 201523%45%30%
February 201625%45%28%
June 201623%44%29%
October 201627%44%27%
February 201727%50%23%
June 201725%52%20%
October 201731%47%21%
February 201838%42%18%
June 201837%42%20%
October 201839%39%19%
February 201940%39%19%
June 201940%37%19%
October 201940%38%18%
February 202041%38%19%
April 202028%34%35%
June 202024%43%31%
October 202023%44%31%
February 202118%49%29%
March 202122%49%28%
April 202121%53%23%
June 202123%49%25%
August 202120%46%31%
October 202120%43%35%
February 202221%39%38%
April 202217%37%43%
June 202214%32%53%
August 202217%38%42%
October 202213%35%49%
December 202216%36%46%
February 202316%35%46%
April 202321%33%44%
June 202319%36%42%
August 202318%35%45%
October 202319%32%47%
December 202323%35%40%
February 202427%33%39%
April 202425%32%41%

While personal economic evaluations remained largely unchanged from the last survey, ratings of the national and Texas economies both declined slightly since February.

  • Asked whether they expect the national economy to be better off or worse off a year from now, a plurality of voters, 36%, expect things to improve, while 23% expect them to stay the same and 28% expect conditions to deteriorate.
  • Asked to rate their concern about nine economic issues, 68% of voters said they were “very concerned” about the price of food and consumer goods, with majorities also very concerned about the cost of healthcare (59%), the price of gasoline and energy (56%), and the cost of housing (55%). Fewer were “very concerned” about interest rates (45%), the cost of higher education (35%), people who want to work being unable to find jobs (34%), the stability of banks and financial institutions (30%), and how the stock market is doing (23%).

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categoryTotal
The price of food and consumer goods68%
The cost of healthcare59%
The price of gasoline and energy56%
The cost of housing55%
Interest rates45%
The cost of higher education35%
People who want to work being unable to find jobs34%
The stability of banks and financial institutions30%
How the stock market is doing23%

The poll also included recurring assessments of political leaders in Texas and the U.S., as well as assessments of the general direction of the state and the country.

Job approvals

Assessment of the direction of the country did not change between February and April: 29% said the country was headed in the right direction, while 62% said it was on the wrong track.

Views of Texas were more positive but still dipped narrowly into negative territory: 43% judged the state as heading in the right direction, while 45% said it was on the wrong track.

Other highlights from the poll

While crime has been a recurring campaign theme (even as evidence accumulates that major crimes have decreased in much of the country), 36% of Texas voters report feeling “very safe” in the area in which they live; 54% say they feel “somewhat safe,” 6% “somewhat unsafe,” and 2% “very safe.” There was no statistical difference between Democrats and Republicans. The 8% saying that they felt either “somewhat” or “very unsafe” was the lowest recorded in seven surveys beginning in October 2020, and significantly less than the 14% who said the same in February 2023.

Texans remain evenly divided on whether they think that the state’s increasing racial and ethnic diversity is a cause for optimism (35%) or concern (36%). Broken down by party, Democrats were more likely to be optimistic than Republicans (52% compared to 22%).

Asked if, “in the face of political or policy conflicts, is it more important for government officials to compromise or to stand on principle?” More than half of Texas voters, 54%, favored compromise, while 46% want their leaders to stick to their principles. Democrats were much more likely to favor compromise (76%) than were Republicans (35%).

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Compromise76%48%35%
Stand on principle24%52%65%

As discussions continue about which major party candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s campaign poses more of a threat to in the general election, the survey finds Kennedy viewed more positively by Republicans (38% favorable / 26% unfavorable) than by Democrats (29% favorable / 50% unfavorable).

After a long period of Congress being stymied over providing more U.S. aid to Ukraine, 28% said the U.S. was doing too much in response to the Russian invasion, while 26% said the U.S. was doing too little and 31% said the current U.S. response is appropriate. The share saying “too little” increased by 7 points since the question was last asked in December, while the share saying “too much” declined by 5 points.

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