New UT/Texas Politics Project Poll: Abbott maintains 45%-40% lead over O’Rourke; 52% support busing migrants out of Texas

Poll Summary (pdf)
Crosstabs (pdf)

The latest University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll finds Gov. Greg Abbott sustaining a polling lead over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, 45%-40%, albeit one that has narrowed as the gubernatorial campaign enters its final and most public phase. Beyond the two major party candidates, Green Party Candidate Delilah Barrios and the Libertarian Party’s Mark Tippets each earned 2% support; 3% preferred an unspecified “someone else,” and 8% were undecided.

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categoryTotal
Greg Abbott45%
Beto O'Rourke40%
Delilah Barrios2%
Mark Tippets2%
Someone else3%
Haven't thought about it enough to have an opinion8%

The poll surveyed 1200 self-declared registered voters using the internet August 26-September 6 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.83%. For complete methodological information about the survey and data collection by YouGov, see the poll summary document.

Beyond the top lines of the gubernatorial trial ballot, the poll results illuminate an election environment in which the Abbott/O’Rourke match-up is the most competitive race for the office Texas has seen in decades. Yet the results also reveal the political and structural advantages Abbott still holds, and the significant obstacles O’Rourke still faces in putting together a coalition of voters capable of overcoming those advantages. There continues to be little evidence that either candidate is attracting significant crossover votes, a significant asset for Abbott and Republican candidates given the current composition of the voting electorate in Texas. The candidates' favorability ratings suggest that Independents remain enamored of neither candidate, but still lean substantially toward Abbott (should they show up to vote). 

Above all, the results illustrate how Gov. Abbott's sustained effort to keep Republican voters focused on border security over the past several months is channeling the most powerful political sentiments in the Texas GOP: Republican voters’ continuing focus on immigration and border security as political issues, fueled by an intense aversion to immigration and perceptions of its negative effects on the state.

The priorities and concerns of Republican voters and their elected officials notwithstanding, border security is not without competition for attention from other issues that have burst into what what was expected to be a predictably favorable election environment for Texas Republicans. Texas's deliberately draconian, post-Dobbs abortion laws, the governor's arguably evasive response to the Uvalde murders, and a shift in the national political environment  would seem to provide O'Rourke with a chance to mobilize previously disengaged Democratic voters. The poll finds that Democratic enthusiasm about the election has increased since the last UT/TxPP Poll in June. The results also suggest that O’Rourke’s emphasis on abortion rights in his campaign media and appearance should resonate with the large share of Democrats who, as the poll finds, say that abortion is a very important factor in their vote.

But the governor's sustained provocations on immigration and border security resonate even more intensely and broadly with Texas Republicans’ well-documented, deeply negative attitudes about immigration. In conjuction with the governor's instiutional and resource assets, this creates subtantial capacity to match successful increases in Democratic voter mobilization as the campaign enters its final weeks, absent any major disruptions in the political environment.

In addition to in-depth assessments of top-of-the-ticket races and the issues driving 2022 vote intentions, the poll explored Texans’ views on a variety of policies. See the sections below for more extensive discussion of the following key findings.

  • Busing migrants. 52% support the state’s recently implemented policy of busing international migrants awaiting asylum hearings to other parts of the country.
  • State spending on border security. A plurality of Texans, 34%, and a majority of Republicans, 52%, continue to say that the state spends too little on border security — a view largely unchanged from recent prior polling, despite massive, and continuing, increases in border security spending in the current state budget.
  • Gun violence. 57% say Texas’s elected officials have done “too little” to prevent mass shootings in Texas.
  • Gun control laws. 54% of Texans say gun control laws should be made more strict, 23% say they should be left as they are, and 18% say they should be less strict.
  • Robb Elementary School shooting. 76% of Texans say that the delay by police in confronting the shooter contributed “a lot” to the severity of the mass shooting in Uvalde.
  • Overturning Roe v. Wade. Texans were split in their response to the Supreme Court’s decision leaving abortion policies to the states, with 44% approving and 44% disapproving.
  • Texas abortion laws. A plurality of Texans, 49%, say abortion laws in Texas should be made “less strict” — only 12% say abortion should never be permitted.
  • Same-sex marriage. A slight majority of Texans, 53%, say that same-sex marriage should be legal in Texas, while 32% disagree — unchanged from polling conducted by the Texas Politics Project in 2017.
  • K-12 education quality. Only 6% of Texas voters rate the public education system in Texas as “excellent,” compared to 38% who say it is good, 32% not very good, and 11% who say it is terrible.
  • Texans’ economic situation. 42% report that their families are economically worse off than a year ago, while 17% say they are better off.
  • Gov. Abbott job approval. 46% approve, 44% disapprove in a slight, though statistically insignificant, improvement over June polling.
  • Direction of the state. 52% of voters say that Texas is on the wrong track, down from a record-high 59% in June, but only the 4th time in the decade-plus time series that a majority have said so, and the third time in a row beginning in April 2022. 
  • Trump/Biden 2024. Overall, Texans are not enthusiastic about either Joe Biden or Donald Trump running for president again in 2024: 59% said Biden should not run for re-election, and 57% said Trump should not run again.

Use the linked list below to jump to results in specific areas with more exploration of key group attitudes and illustrative graphics of results in key areas covered by the poll.

2022 Election

Governor’s race: Trial ballots, attitudes toward candidates and key issues
Other trial ballots

Policy

Immigration and border issues
Gun safety and gun violence
Abortion
Marriage rights, contraception
Education

General Outlook & The Economy
Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and American political institutions
Texas Job Approval ratings

 

Governor’s race: Trial ballots, attitudes toward candidates and key issues

Looking below the topline result in the governor’s race, both candidates have locked down the bulk of their partisans: 86% of Republicans prefer Abbott, with only 5% crossing over for O’Rouke. A nearly identical 85% of Democrats prefer O’Rourke, with only 4% choosing Abbott in the trial ballot item. Among independents, Abbott leads 40%-22%, an 8-point improvement for Abbott over June polling that found the incumbent leading 32%-22%.

August 2022 University of Texas / Texas Politics Project Poll: Gubernatorial Trial Ballot Results Among Key Groups of Registered Voters
  Abbott O'Rourke GOP Advantage
Overall 45% 40% +5
Urban 32% 51% -19
Suburban 48% 39% +9
Rural 61% 26% +35
Moderates 28% 45% -17
Independents 40% 22% +18
White/Anglo 58% 29% +29
Hispanic 33% 52% -19
Black 15% 71% -56

Both candidates’ success with their partisans and the lack of party defections reflect how well-established the candidates are among Texas partisans, which is evident in their respective favorability ratings. Among Republicans, 79% view Abbott favorably and 13% view him unfavorably. The vast majority of Democrats, 77%, view the two-term governor “very unfavorably,” with another 6% holding a somewhat unfavorable opinion of the governor leading to an overall rating among Texas Democrats of 83% unfavorable and 11% favorable. Among all registered voters, Abbott’s favorability and unfavorability ratings are identical at 45% each.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Very favorable3%5%44%
Somewhat favorable8%32%35%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable5%14%8%
Somewhat unfavorable6%16%7%
Very unfavorable77%27%6%
Don't know/No opinion1%6%1%

O’Rourke’s favorability ratings show slightly more partisan intensity in both directions. Democrats who view him favorably do so more intensely than Abbott’s partisans view the governor: 84% of Democrats view O’Rourke favorably — 56% very favorably (compared to 44% of Republicans who view Abbott “very favorably”). But Republicans’ unfavorable sentiment is slightly more intense – 80% view the former congressman very unfavorably, feeding a lopsided 10% favorable, 85% unfavorable, rating. 

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Very favorable56%9%3%
Somewhat favorable28%14%7%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable8%7%4%
Somewhat unfavorable2%16%5%
Very unfavorable3%47%80%
Don't know/No opinion2%7%2%

Independents as a group are more favorably disposed toward Abbott than O’Rourke, though both are in net-negative territory, with intensity, such as it exists, expressed on the unfavorable end of the spectrum: Abbott is judged favorably by 37% of independents and unfavorably by 42% (27% very unfavorable). O’Rourke fares worse – 23% favorable, 63% unfavorable (47% very unfavorable). If one possible route to reducing Abbott's baseline partisan advantage is to add a substantial share of independents voters to his Democratic base, O’Rourke faces significant obstacles as summer turns to fall.

The survey asked voters which candidate they trusted more to do a better job on each of 11 issue areas reflecting major themes of the 2022 campaign. Texans’ preferences on the issues mostly align with the campaign emphases of O’Rourke and Abbott thus far. Those issues that each campaign is trying to draw voters’ attention to, and those that they are avoiding, reflect their comparative advantage with these issues among Texas voters.

More Texans trust Abbott to do a better job than O’Rourke on four issues:

  • Immigration/border security: Abbott 48%, O’Rourke 36% (the largest advantage either enjoys on any issue)
  • The state economy: Abbott 46%, O’Rourke 35%
  • Public safety: Abbott 46%, O’Rourke 38%
  • Property taxes: Abbott 40%, O’Rourke 35%
  • Voting and elections: Abbott 43%, O’Rourke 40%

More Texans trust O’Rourke to do a better job on two issues: 

  • Abortion: O’Rourke 42%, Abbott 38%
  • Environment/Climate change: O’Rourke 43%, Abbott 36%

The difference between the shares that trust one candidate to do a better job than the other is within the margin of error (+/- 2.83%) on four issues (with one tie): 

  • Health care: O’Rourke 42%, Abbott 40%
  • Public education: Abbott 42%, O’Rourke 41%
  • Gun violence: Abbott 42%, O’Rourke 42%
  • State electric grid: Abbott 39%, O’Rourke 38%

The poll subsequently asked which of the 11 issues was most important to their vote in the 2022 election. Four issues were selected by more than 10% of voters. Of the four, the top two were issues on which Texans trusted Abbott more than O’Rourke: immigration and border security (26%) and the state economy (13%). The third highest was abortion (12%), on which O’Rourke was more trusted. Abbott and O’Rourke were tied on the fourth-highest ranked issue, gun violence (11%).

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Immigration / Border security26%
The state economy13%
Abortion12%
Gun violence11%
Climate change7%
Health care6%
Voting & elections6%
Property taxes5%
The state's electric grid4%
Public education3%
Public safety2%
Don't know / No opinion4%

Other trial ballots

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Dan Patrick39%
Mike Collier32%
Shanna Steele4%
Someone else4%
Haven't thought about it enough to have an opinion20%

The rematch of the 2018 contest for Lieutenant Governor between two-term incumbent Dan Patrick and Democratic challenger Mike Collier found Patrick with a 7-point lead, 39%-32%, among registered voters. Libertarian Shanna Steele and “someone else” were each the choice of 4%, while 20% didn’t express a choice. Patrick’s lead decreased five points since June polling, when he led Collier 38%-26%.

Collier’s share of Democrats increased from 59% in June to 68% in the current poll; Patrick’s share of Republicans increased from 70% to 76%. Among independents, the plurality, 37%, remain undecided. Patrick leads Collier 33%-21% among independents, while 9% are divided among Steele (4%) and an unspecified “someone else” (5%). 

August 2022 University of Texas / Texas Politics Project Lieutenant Governor Trial Ballot Results Among Key Groups of Registered Voters
  Patrick Collier GOP Advantage
Overall 39% 32% +7
Urban 28% 43% -15
Suburban 41% 32% +9
Rural 55% 15% +40
Moderates 19% 30% -11
Independents 33% 21% +12
White/Anglo 52% 28% +24
Hispanic 28% 38% -10
Black 12% 43% -31

Incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton leads his Democratic challenger, Rochelle Garza, 38%-33%. Libertarian Mark Ash was the choice of 4%, while 5% chose an unspecified “someone else” and 21% didn’t express an opinion. These results were largely unchanged from June polling when Paxton posted an 8-point lead, 37% to 29%.

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Ken Paxton38%
Rochelle Garza33%
Mark Ash4%
Someone else5%
Haven't thought about it enough to have an opinion21%

Garza’s share of Democrats increased to 70% from 63% in June; Paxton’s share of Republicans increased slightly from 69% in June to 72% in the latest poll. Paxton leads Garza 32%-18% among independents, 37% of whom didn’t have an opinion, while 8% opted for the Libertarian candidate Mark Ash.

August 2022 University of Texas / Texas Politics Project Attorney General Trial Ballot Results Among Key Groups of Registered Voters
  Paxton Garza GOP Advantage
Overall 38% 33% +5
Urban 25% 44% -19
Suburban 40% 31% +9
Rural 52% 20% +32
Moderates 17% 33% -16
Independents 32% 18% +14
White/Anglo 49% 28% +21
Hispanic 27% 39% -12
Black 13% 44% -31

 

Respondents also provided favorability ratings for an extensive list of statewide candidates, including candidates for Land Commissioner and Agriculture commissioner.

August 2022 University of Texas / Texas Politics Candidate Ratings Among Registered Voters
  Favorable Unfavorable Net
Donald Trump 41% 50% -9
Joe Biden 38% 53% -15
Greg Abbott 45% 45% 0
Beto O'Rourke 41% 48% -7
Dan Patrick 37% 37% 0
Mike Collier 25% 12% +13
Ken Paxton 36% 37% -1
Rochelle Garza 27% 12% +15
Sid Miller 16% 15% +1
Susan Hays 10% 9% +1
Dawn Buckingham 11% 12% -1
Jay Kleberg 11% 8% +3

Both Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General have found some traction among their partisans in the intervening summer months since the UT poll last asked voters to evaluate a long list of candidates in April, 2022 polling. The share of Democrats with a positive impression of Collier increased from 25% to 48% over that time period, while the share holding a positive impression of Garza increased from 20% to 52%. Republicans and independents remain largely unacquainted with either Democratic candidate.

Immigration and border issues

Immigration and border security continue to exert a powerful influence on Texas’ political landscape, particularly among Republicans. Asked to identify the most important problem facing the state, 30% chose one or the other. In a continuation of a pattern seen in virtually every Texas Politics Project poll over the last decade, 54% of Republicans said immigration or border security is the most important problem facing the state. 

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categoryTotal
Strongly support36%
Somewhat support16%
Somewhat oppose8%
Strongly oppose27%
Don't know/No opinion14%

On an issue receiving extensive state and national media coverage, the state’s high-profile policy of busing international migrants awaiting asylum hearings to other parts of the country earns positive reviews from a majority of Texans: 52% support the policy while 35% expressed opposition — 14% are unsure. 

Republicans overwhelmingly approve of the busing policy, which Gov. Abbott has vocally promoted, with 80% expressing support, including 62% who expressed “strong support.” Most Democrats, 62%, oppose the Abbott-led initiative, including 50% who strongly oppose the busing policy, but nearly a quarter, 22%, expressed support. Among political independents, who neither identify with nor lean toward either party, 50% support the governor’s busing policy while 26% expressed opposition. While the busing policy, like many other border security initiatives, demonstrates the broadest and most intense appeal to Texas Republicans, its appeal to independents and to a small yet non-trivial share of Democrats contributes to its political currency for Republican incumbents. 

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Strongly support9%33%62%
Somewhat support13%17%18%
Somewhat oppose12%10%4%
Strongly oppose50%16%9%
Don't know/No opinion16%23%7%

Asked if “Texas spends too much, too little, or about the right amount on border security,” a plurality of Texans, 34%, said the state spends too little, while 22% said the state spends “about the right amount” and 27% said the state spends “too much.” This is the sixth poll to include this item since sharp increases in border spending approved during the 87th legislature pushed the budget for border spending over $3 billion for the biennium, an amount which has been increased further since the legislature adjourned sine die in August. A plurality said the state spends too little in all six of those polls, while a majority said the state is spending either too little or the right amount in each.

These results reflect consistent support for either present spending levels or, implicitly, for increased spending, among Texas Republicans and, to a lesser but still evident extent, independents. More than half of Republicans, 52%, said the state spends too little on border security, while 25% said the state spends about the right amount and only 12% said the state is spending too much. Among independents, 34% said too little; 21% said about the right amount; and 19% said too much. By comparison, only 16% of Democrats said too much, while 45% said too much, and 18% the right amount.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Too little16%34%52%
Too much45%19%12%
About the right amount18%21%25%
Don't know/No opinion21%26%11%

The poll also yielded results that illuminate underlying attitudes toward immigration and immigrants consistent with these policy preferences. When asked, “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States should be deported immediately,” 51% agreed and 39% disagreed. Nearly four-fifths of Republicans, 79%, agreed with the statement, while 15% disagreed. Half of independents agreed, while 32% disagreed; and only 20% of Democrats agreed, while 70% disagreed. These attitudes are consistent with results to this question on 16 previous Texas Politics Project polls conducted since 2014. During this span, an average of 51% of Texans have agreed with the statement, while 42%, on average, have disagreed.

Asked whether Texas’ increasing racial and ethnic diversity is a cause for optimism or a cause for concern, 39% view these changes as a cause for optimism and 33% as a cause for concern; with 28% expressing no opinion. While a majority of Democrats, 57%, said that increasing diversity was a cause for optimism (28% said it was a cause for concern), Republicans were split, with the plurality, 38%, viewing these changes as a cause for concern, 35% unsure about the nature of these changes, and a minority, 27%, who view these changes as a cause for optimism

Gun safety and gun violence

As new developments in the aftermath of the May 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas continue to attract public attention, and with gun violence and the state’s response to Uvalde a prominent issue in the election, the poll asked, “Have Texas’s elected officials done enough, too much, or too little to prevent mass shootings in Texas?” A majority, 57%, opined that elected officials had done too little, while only 26% said that they have done “enough” (22%) or “too much” (4%).

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categoryTotal
Enough22%
Too much4%
Too little57%
Don't know/No opinion17%

The poll again revealed sharp partisan differences in attitudes: 86% of Democrats said the state has done “too little,” and only 5% that the state has done enough. Republican responses were more divided: a plurality, 39%, said the state has done enough, while 32% said the state has done “too little.” A quarter of Republicans said they didn’t know. A majority of independents (60%) said the state has done “too little,” while 20% said leaders has done enough and 20% didn’t have an opinion.

The poll found more partisan agreement among Texans when they were asked how much each of several factors “contributed to the severity of the mass shooting” at Robb Elementary School. Slightly more than three quarters of voters, 76%, believed that the delay by police contributed “a lot” to the severity of the mass shooting. Among the four other factors evaluated by respondents, none were judged by a majority as contributing “a lot” to the severity of the mass shooting.

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categoryTotal
The delay by police in confronting the shooter76%
Flaws in school safety practices48%
Weaknesses in the mental health system47%
The weapon used by the shooter46%
The shooter’s family history32%

While the broad agreement about the impact of the delay in police response muted partisan differences, there were significant differences between Republicans and Democrats in the role played by the weapon used by the killer. Among Democrats, 74% said that the weapon chosen by the shooter had “a lot” to do with the severity of the shootings, compared to 35% of independents, and 22% of Republicans. A majority of Republicans, 51%, said that the weapon either didn’t have very much of an impact (21%) or had no impact at all (30%).

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
A lot74%35%22%
Some15%14%22%
Not very much5%12%21%
None2%28%30%
Don't know/No opinion4%11%5%

Within this context, a majority of Texas voters, 54%, said that current gun laws should be made more strict, the highest share endorsing stricter laws in 10 surveys where the item was asked since February of 2015. The share of independents, Hispanics, women, and suburban voters saying gun control laws should be made more strict were also high points over that same time series. In contrast, the share of Republicans who said that gun control laws should be made more strict declined 6 points from 28% to 22% between June and August polling.

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categoryTotal
More strict20%
Less strict49%
Left as they are now21%
Don't know/No opinion10%

Abortion

In broad terms, Texans remain closely divided on abortion, with 44% approving and disapproving, respectively, of the Supreme Court’s decision to leave abortion policy to the states, and a slight plurality, 45%, identifying as “pro-choice” compared with 38% who identify as “pro-life.” 

But the state’s limits on access to abortion – which are among the most prohibitive in the country after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June – are not supported by a majority of voters. A plurality of Texans, 49%, say that abortion laws in Texas should be made “less strict,” 21% say they should be left as they are now, and 20% say they should be more strict. This represented the largest share of voters saying that Texas’ abortion laws should be less strict in six surveys in which the item was asked, first in 2013 — as well as the smallest share saying the laws should be more strict.

A large majority of Democrats, 79%, favor loosening Texas’ abortion laws. The poll found less consensus on Texas abortion laws among Republicans, with more prefering that the laws be made “more strict” (28%) than less strict (26%), but the pluarlity, 37%, in favor of leaving the laws unchanged.

These attitudes about strictness correspond with attitudes about accessibility: only 11% of voters say that abortion should never be available in cases of rape, while 12% say the same about cases of incest. In cases in which “the woman’s health is seriously endangered,” 5% say that abortion should never be an option. Current Texas law prohibits abortion in cases of rape or incest.

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categoryTotal
The woman’s health is seriously endangered.83%
The woman became pregnant as a result of rape.79%
The woman became pregnant as a result of incest.77%
There is a strong chance of a serious birth defect.70%
The family has very low income and cannot afford any more children.56%
The woman is not married and does not want to marry.55%
The woman is married and does not want any more children.55%

Looking ahead at future action by Texas on abortion policy, a battery of items assessed Texans attitudes towards increased access compared with increased enforcement and/or enforcement mechanisms. Overall, 50% of Texas voters approved of the state enacting policies designed to expand legal access to abortion compared to 31% who disapproved. Majorities also disapproved of the state enacting policies designed to add additional resources to enforcing the state’s current abortion ban (51% disapprove, 26% approve); prevent travel by women out of state to receive an abortion in a state where it remains legal (60% disapprove, 18% approve); further prevent access to abortion medication supplied through the mail (54% disapprove, 25% approve); and penalize companies that pay for travel expenses for employees seeking abortion care out of state (52% disapprove, 29% approve).

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categoryTotal
Expand legal access to abortion services50%
Penalize companies that pay for abortion related travel expenses29%
Dedicate more state resources to enforcing the state’s ban on abortion26%
Prevent women from accessing abortion in states where abortion is still legal26%
Prevent women from receiving medicated abortion pills through the mail25%

Despite the recent attention paid to the abortion issue in the wake of the Dobbs decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, only 12% of voters said that abortion will be the most important factor in their 2022 vote choice – though abortion is the top issue among Democrats at 21%.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Very important71%32%38%
Somewhat important17%26%25%
Not very important4%18%18%
Not important at all3%11%15%
Don't know/No opinion5%12%5%

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categoryTotal
Greg Abbott38%
Beto O'Rourke42%
Neither12%
Don't know/No opinion9%

Marriage rights, contraception

A slight majority of Texans, 53%, say that same-sex marriage should be legal in Texas compared to 32% who say it shouldn’t be legal, and 15% who were unable or unwilling to express an opinion. These results are largely unchanged from a similar item asked in June of 2017. While 78% of Democrats agree that same sex marriage should be legal in Texas, this compared to 51% of independents, and only 35% of Republicans, among whom 50% say same-sex marriage should not be legal in Texas.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Agree, should be legal78%51%35%
Disagree, should not be legal11%28%50%
Don't know/No opinion12%21%16%

Younger voters are significantly more willing to endorse the legality of same-sex marriage in Texas compared with older voters, with 64% of 18-29 year olds and 60% of 30-44 year olds saying that same sex marriage should be legal, compared with 47% and 48% of 45-64 year olds and those over the age of 65, respectively.

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Category18-2930-4445-6465+
Agree, should be legal64%60%47%48%
Disagree, should not be legal22%27%36%37%
Don't know/No opinion13%13%17%16%

Texans expressed significantly more support for the legality of interracial marriage, with 83% saying that this should be a legal right in Texas, including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Republicans, and 77% of independents. Similarly, 83% of Texans said that access to contraception should be legal in Texas, including 91% of Democrats, 80% of Republicans, and 76% of independents. 

Education

Asked in an open-ended item what the most important issue facing K-12 public education in Texas, the plurality of voters, 41%, were unable to offer an opinion. Curriculum concerns registered the greatest amount of concern, 16%, with the majority of that concern classifiable as conservative concerns about curriculum. One in four Republicans expressed a concern about curriculum compared with only 10% of Democrats, whose concerns were about the censoring of educational ideas. Among Democrats, the top concerns were teacher pay and teacher shortages (11%), followed by politicization of the school system (9%), funding (8%), and safety (8%).

Overall, only 6% of Texans rated the quality of K-12 public education in the state as excellent, with 38% rating it as good, 32% as not very good, and 11% as terrible. These results are comparable to previous instances in which this item was asked in UT polling.

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categoryTotal
Excellent6%
Good38%
Not very good32%
Terrible11%
Don't know/No opinion13%

General Outlook & The Economy

Texans remain concerned about the economy and inflation, though economic concerns have abated slightly in some areas compared to the June UT/TXP poll. Inflation continues to have an impact on Texans’ finances: A clear majority of Texans, 56%, still report that increased prices have had a major impact on their current household financial situation, statistically unchanged from the April poll when 55% said the same. 

In a sign of the general improvement in views of the economy, opinions about both the Texas and national economy were also slightly less negative than in June. The share saying that the national economy is better than a year ago increased from 14% in June to 20% in August, while the share saying that the national economy is worse compared to one year ago declined 13-points from 73% to 60%. The share saying that the state economy is improving over last year increased a modest 4-points, from 13% in June to 17%, but like views of the national economy, the share saying that Texas’ economy is worse than a year ago dropped substantially, from 58% in June to 44%.

These improved, or less dour, economic evaluations likely inform slightly improved evaluations of the trajectory of the state and country. While an overwhelming majority of Texans, 69%, continue to view the country as being on the wrong track, this marked a 6-point decline from June polling, coupled with a 5-point increase in the share who say the country is headed in the right direction, from 16% to 21%. 

State evaluations follow a similar, if slightly less negative pattern. August polling found a majority of voters, 52%, viewing the state as heading in the wrong direction for the third-consecutive poll, but only the fourth time in UT polling going back to 2009. The August result represented a 7-point drop from June, when 59% said the state was on the wrong track (a record high), coupled with a 5-point increase over the same time period in those who feel that the state is headed in the right direction, from 31% in June to 36% in August.

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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%

For more on Texans views of the economy and the general environment, see our updated trends and approval page.

Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and American political institutions

With the casting of the first votes in the 2022 general election still weeks away, the 2020 election and the previous president still cast long shadows in the political world.

As in much national polling, Joe Biden’s job approval numbers in Texas have improved since their Spring doldrums, though this improvement is comparatively muted in Republican Texas, with Biden remaining in net-negative approval territory. Texans' approval of the President’s job performance increased to 40% after reaching the lowest point of his presidency in June (35%). His net approval rating in the latest poll is -12 (52% disapproved), improved from net -20 in June (55%/37%). Biden benefitted from a 5% increase in approval among Democrats and a very slight 2-point improvement in approval among Republicans (from 7% to 9%). Among independents, Biden remains in the doghouse: 14% approved, unchanged since June, and 71% disapproved (up 5 points from June’s 66% disapproval).

Not surprisingly, assessments of the job that Biden is doing in 10 issue areas are also all in net-negative territory. He receives his best (i.e. least negative) reviews for his handling of COVID-19 (41% approve / 44% disapprove), climate change (38%/43%), and health care (35%/43%). His worst ratings come on issues that the poll found are highly salient to Texas voters: imimgration and border security (28% approve/53% disapprove), inflation and prices (29%/54%), and the economy (32%/52%). 

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categoryTotal
The coronavirus41%
Climate change38%
Foreign policy35%
Health care35%
Gun violence33%
The economy32%
Abortion access32%
Crime & public safety31%
Inflation & prices29%
Immigration & border security28%

On two issues widely thought to have shifted the political environment to Democrats’ relative advantage, Biden is also in the doldrums. Only 32% approve of his handling of abortion access, while 44% disapprove; 33% approve of his handling of gun violence, 47% disapprove. Among Democrats, 61% approve and 16% disapprove of his handling of abortion; Democrats ratings of the president on gun violence are identical (61%/16%). Biden is weakest among his partisans on inflation and prices (57%/20%) and the issue Texas Republicans are pushing to the forefront of the state campaign, immigration and border security (52%/19%).

Republicans are nearly uniform in their condemnation of Biden’s performance. No more than 13% of Republicans approve of his performance on any issue, and no less than 64% disapprove strongly across the range of issues. Three quarters or more of Republicans disapprove strongly of his performance on foreign policy (75%), the economy (78%), inflation and prices (81%), and immigration and border security (81%). 

Texans overall are not enthusiastic about either Biden or Donald Trump running for president again in 2024, though Republicans show more support for Trump attempting to return to the White House than Democrats show for a Biden run for re-election. 

Among all Texas voters, 59% said Biden should not run for re-election; only 42% of Democrats said he should run (35% said he should not run, 23% were undecided). 

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categoryTotal
Yes, should run24%
No, should not run59%
Don't know / No opinion16%

On another Trump presidential campaign, 57% of Texas voters said the former president should not run again, though a clear majority of Republicans, 61%, said he should try to return to the White house (27% opposed another Trump run, 11% were undecided).

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categoryTotal
Yes, should run34%
No, should not run57%
Don't know / No opinion9%

The former president’s favorability in Texas has declined slightly among the overall electorate since he left office. In the latest poll, 41% viewed Trump favorably, while 50% viewed him unfavorably, down from his post-presidential high in June, 2021 (47% favorable, 47% unfavorable). That decline is also evident among Republicans, though he nonetheless enjoys widespread and intense support among Texas Republicans. The latest poll finds 76% viewing him favorably and only 14% unfavorably. His post-presidential high point was 86%, also in June 2021.

The comparatively higher level of Republican support for another Trump presidential campaign likely reflects the widespread refusal among the former president’s partisans to accept the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s clear defeat of Trump in 2020. Two-thirds of Texas Republican voters (66%) don’t think Joe Biden “legitimately won the 2020 presidential election.” (Nearly a third of independents, 31%, also share this belief.) Overall, 52% of Texans agree that Biden was legitimately elected, 36% disagree, and 12% are not sure. These results are consistent with previous polls in June and February of this year, suggesting that denial of the legitimacy of the 2020 election has become an entrenched presence among a significant minority of the Texas electorate, including a majority of Texas Republicans.

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categoryTotal
Yes52%
No36%
Not sure12%

The partisan-fueled doubt about the legitimacy of electoral institutions is also reflected in the powerful evidence of partisanship in the poll’s assessment of Texans’ trust in national governmental institutions. Asked which branch of government they trusted most, trust is lowest in what is arguably the most democratic branch of the federal government, Congress — only 10% trusted the legislative branch the most. The president and the executive branch is trusted most by 22%, including 46% of Democrats – not surprising given the presence of a Democrat in the White House. Between October 2020 and February 2021, the share of Democrats who placed the most trust in the executive branch leapt from 4% to 42%. Prior to the 2020 election, which swept Democrats into the White House and nominal control of Congress, the share of Democrats who opted to choose none of the branches reached as high as 52% (in October 2018). In the latest poll, the overall share of those who declined to choose was 33%, including about a third of Democrats (35%), just under a quarter of Republicans (24%), and more than half of independents (57%). 

The Supreme Court and the judicial branch are most trusted by the largest share of Texans – 35% — including 63% of Republicans. With a Democrat in the White House, effective Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, and an aggressively conservative Supreme Court shaped by Donald Trump’s three appointments, Republicans’ surge of trust in the judiciary in the latest poll was a record high among Republicans in a dozen polls conducted since 2015.  In three polls assessing institutional trust after the Democratic electoral success of 2020, at least half of Republicans placed the most trust in the Supreme Court. The share of Republicans who reported trusting the judicial branch the most was only 19% as recently as June 2019, amidst widespread conservative disappointment in the court decisions in cases such as Obergefell v. Hodges, which overturned state bans on same-sex marriage. 

Partisan views of national institutions also extend to federal law enforcement. When asked about their opinions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Texans were evenly divided: 38% had a favorable view, 39% an unfavorable view, with 20% saying neither and another 4% saying they had no opinion. Democratic views were much more favorable than unfavorable (58%/12%), while Republicans were strongly negative – only 20% viewed the FBI favorably, while 66% viewed them unfavorably — nearly half, 48%, very unfavorably. Independents were closer to Republicans than independents in their assessments (21%/47%). 

While Democratic attitudes have been relatively stable over five polls conducted since June 2017, with at least 50% expressing a favorable view, Republican views exhibit a sharp negative turn during the Trump presidency. Republican views dropped from 43% approval and 35% disapproval in June 2017 to 27% approval and 48% disapproval in February 2018. 

The time-series of FBI assessments over the last 5 years illustrate that some relevant predispositions toward the FBI and federal law enforcement were already in place when FBI agents executed a court-approved search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, and ignited a new political firestorm with Trump at the center fanning the flames. The poll asked Texans a question assessing their general view of the search: “Do you think that the execution of a search warrant on former president Donald Trump’s home in Florida to recover classified materials owned by the U.S. government is based mostly on evidence of possible crimes, or based mostly on politics?”  

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Based mostly on evidence of possible crimes89%40%12%
Based mostly on politics8%52%84%
Don't know/No opinion3%7%4%

As with most matters involving the former president, attitudes were evenly divided and polarized along partisan lines: 49% thought the search was based mostly on politics, composed mainly of the 84% of Republicans whose views are in line with the former President’s heated public pronouncements, though not the predominant share of available evidence. (52% of independents also contribute to the pool of skeptics.) Predictably, Democrats predominate among the 47% who say the search was evidence-based — 89% of Democrats think the search was warranted, with only 8% saying it was mostly political.

Texas Job Approval ratings

The survey asked Texans to rate major elected officials job performance. Results are summarized in the table below. To view trend data for these assessments. 

August 2022 University of Texas / Texas Politics Job Approval Ratings Among Registered Voters
  Approve Disapprove Net
Joe Biden 40% 52% -12
U.S. Congress 26% 55% -29
Greg Abbott 46% 44% +2
Dan Patrick 38% 37% -1
Ken Paxton 37% 38% -1
Ted Cruz 42% 44% -2
John Cornyn 29% 42% -13

Revision note: an earlier version of this post listed the field dates for the poll as August 28-September 6. The field dates are now correct in the text.

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