As pandemic worsens in Texas, Governor Abbott’s job approval slips, ratings of other Texas leaders remain largely static as views of the Texas economy darken according to June 2020 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll

Summary document (pdf)
Crosstabs (pdf)

We released the remaining results of the June 2020 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll today. This post focuses on Texans' assessment of the state's political leaders, the state of the economy in Texas, and the direction the state is headed.

The poll also included results on attitudes on the coronavirus and the ongoing response; race, policing, and recent protests; and the national economy and political landscape. There are links to a summary of all results and a crosstab file at the top of this page. As always, these files are available in the Texas Politics Project polling data archive, along with a data file and codebook. All the graphics in this post as well as hundreds of others from the June poll are available at the archive and at our "latest poll" page.

Some points of interest

  • Governor Greg Abbott’s job approval rating dropped just below 50% approval – though at 49%, just below – for the first time in two years, an 7-point decline since the April UT/Texas Tribune Poll, while disapproval of his job performance increased from 32% in both February and April polling to 39% in June.
  • Approval of Abbott’s handling of the coronavirus/COVID-19 was approximate to his overall job approval rating: 49% approved and 41% disapproved. This was a significant decline from his April ratings in which 56% approved and 29% disapproved.
  • The job approval ratings of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, and both U.S. Senators all stayed mostly unchanged between April and June.
  • COVID-19 again topped Texans’ list of the most important problems facing Texas, though immigration and border security remain the most salient problems for the largest share of Texas Republicans.
  • Asked about the direction of Texas, 41% said the state was heading in the right direction, but 47% said the state was on the wrong track – the first net-negative assessment of Texas' direction since 2012. 
  • A plurality of Texans reported that they would opt to vote in-person but during early voting, though nearly a third (32%) said they would opt to vote by mail if the rules allowed it.

Follow the links below for more detailed results in each subject area.

Within subject areas, individual item results are hyperlinked to graphics including cross tabulations by party identification, ideology, race, gender, religiosity, and other selected demographic and attitudinal characteristics.

Job approvals of Texas elected officials

Economic views and the political landscape

The 2020 elections and voting

Job approvals of Texas elected officials

Governor Greg Abbott’s job approval rating dropped just below 50% approval – though at 49%, just below –  for the first time in two years, an 7-point decline since the April UT/Texas Tribune Poll, while disapproval of his job performance increased from 32% in both February and April polling to 39% in June.

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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%

Abbott’s 56% overall job approval in April represented the highwater mark of his governorship, seemingly buoyed by relatively high approval from Democrats, 24% of whom approved of the job he was doing in the early stages of the state’s attempts to grapple with COVID-19. In the meantime, Abbott reopened Texas, but has since been forced to batten down the hatches when the opening contributed to a resurgence of the virus. His approval numbers among Democrats sagged to 13%, with 74% disapproving – 51% disapproving strongly – the highest disapproval rate among Democrats of his governorship.

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PollApproveDisapproveNeither/Don't Know
November 201513%56%23%
February 201618%50%33%
June 201612%60%27%
October 201612%62%26%
February 201713%61%27%
June 20179%70%20%
October 201714%64%21%
February 201812%59%29%
June 201814%67%18%
October 201812%67%21%
February 201916%63%22%
June 201918%62%21%
October 201924%51%24%
February 202013%64%24%
April 202024%59%16%
June 202013%74%13%
October 202013%70%17%
February 202113%73%14%
March 202111%81%8%
April 20217%83%9%
June 20218%82%9%
August 20216%90%4%

Abbott’s approval rating among Republicans decreased from 88% to 83% over the same period, remaining within a long established band, and a sign that carping from far-right opinion leaders, grass tops groups, and a small handful of state legislators does not seem to be rampant among his base.

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PollApproveDisapproveNeither/Don't Know
November 201570%8%23%
February 201669%8%23%
June 201673%7%21%
October 201675%5%21%
February 201780%5%15%
June 201783%8%10%
October 201779%5%14%
February 201881%5%14%
June 201880%7%14%
October 201889%4%8%
February 201983%6%10%
June 201984%4%12%
October 201979%6%15%
February 202084%8%12%
April 202088%6%7%
June 202083%7%9%
October 202081%13%7%
February 202179%10%11%
March 202179%13%8%
April 202177%13%10%
June 202177%12%11%
August 202173%18%9%

Approval of Abbott’s handling of the coronavirus/COVID-19 was approximate to his overall job approval rating: 49% approved and 41% disapproved. However, this represented a significant decline from his April ratings in which 56% expressed approval compared to only 29% who disapproved.

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categoryTotal
Approve strongly27%
Approve somewhat22%
Neither approve nor disapprove7%
Disapprove somewhat12%
Disapprove strongly29%
Don't know3%

Abbott received slightly stronger marks for his handling of the economy.

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categoryTotal
Approve strongly32%
Approve somewhat20%
Neither approve nor disapprove11%
Disapprove somewhat12%
Disapprove strongly19%
Don't know6%

Texans were more reserved about the governor’s handling of race relations: 45% approved and 27% disapproved; almost a quarter (23%) withheld judgment.

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categoryTotal
Approve somewhat17%
Approve strongly28%
Disapprove somewhat12%
Disapprove strongly20%
Don't know7%
Neither approve nor disapprove16%

Among African Americans, 16% approved and 50% disapproved (32% strongly) of Abbott’s handling or race relations; among White Texans, 53% approved and 28% disapproved. Among Latinos, 41% approved and 32% disapproved.

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CategoryWhiteBlackHispanic
Approve somewhat18%5%21%
Approve strongly35%11%20%
Disapprove somewhat11%18%9%
Disapprove strongly17%32%23%
Don't know7%7%9%
Neither approve nor disapprove12%26%18%

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s job approval numbers remained largely static between April and June: 39% approved of the job he’s doing and 38% disapproved, up a mere two points, though another entry in a series of gradual but steady increases in negative appraisals of him since June 2019, when 31% disapproved.

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PollApproveDisapproveNeither/Don't Know
November 201550%7%44%
February 201647%10%43%
June 201654%9%37%
October 201656%10%34%
February 201759%6%36%
June 201764%11%25%
October 201762%9%30%
February 201867%7%26%
June 201864%7%26%
October 201877%6%17%
February 201975%6%19%
June 201968%6%25%
October 201967%9%23%
February 202072%9%20%
April 202070%10%20%
June 202072%8%20%
October 202066%10%24%
February 202165%11%24%
March 202164%11%26%
April 202163%10%27%
June 202165%7%28%
August 202161%11%28%

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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%

Outgoing Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen remains largely unknown to Texans, as his job approval numbers remain unchanged at 23% approve, 26% disapprove, and 56% with no opinion or who don’t know him.

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categoryTotal
Approve strongly6%
Approve somewhat17%
Neither approve nor disapprove25%
Disapprove somewhat10%
Disapprove strongly16%
Don't know26%

Senator Ted Cruz, who has kept a comparatively low profile during the COVID-19 pandemic as as well as the racial protests of recent months, has an approval rating of 46% (30% strongly approve), while 42% disapprove (33% strongly).

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categoryTotal
Approve strongly30%
Approve somewhat16%
Neither approve nor disapprove9%
Disapprove somewhat9%
Disapprove strongly33%
Don't know4%

Cruz remains appreciated by Republicans: 81% approve - 16 points higher than the approval of the state’s senior senator who is up for reelection this year.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Approve strongly2%23%57%
Approve somewhat7%14%24%
Neither approve nor disapprove7%15%8%
Disapprove somewhat14%11%4%
Disapprove strongly66%28%4%
Don't know4%9%3%

Senator John Cornyn awaits the outcome of the Democratic primary run-off between M.J. Hegar and State Senator Royce West. Senator Cornyn’s job approval has fluctuated only slightly in three UT-affiliated polls this year including the June Poll, in which 36% approve of the job he’s doing (15% strongly) and 40% disapprove, the latter of which is on the high end of the range his ratings generally occupy. As he seeks reelection to his fourth consecutive term in the U.S. Senate, about a quarter of Texans don’t hold an opinion about him.

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categoryTotal
Approve strongly15%
Approve somewhat21%
Neither approve nor disapprove13%
Disapprove somewhat13%
Disapprove strongly27%
Don't know11%

Republicans remain approving but comparatively lukewarm when you compare his approval ratings to other major Texas Republicans such as Cruz and Abbott: 65% approve of the job he’s doing, 22% disapprove, and 20% don’t have an opinion.

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ApproveDisapproveNeither/Don't Know
November 201543%24%32%
February 201645%20%34%
June 201641%21%39%
October 201644%18%36%
February 201752%13%36%
June 201751%21%27%
October 201746%23%31%
February 201850%18%32%
June 201846%18%35%
October 201870%8%21%
February 201962%14%25%
June 201963%12%26%
October 201961%12%28%
February 202066%10%23%
April 202066%12%22%
June 202065%15%20%
October 202071%11%18%
February 202156%18%24%
March 202157%20%23%
April 202157%18%25%
June 202160%17%24%
August 202151%21%28%

Economic views and the political landscape

Asked to choose the most important problem facing Texas, the most frequent choice was the coronavirus/COVID-19, chosen by 27%. In an echo of previous pre-pandemic polls, border security (9%) and immigration (8%) were the next most frequent answers, followed by political corruption/leadership and the economy, each chosen by 7%.

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categoryTotal
Coronavirus/COVID-1927%
Border security9%
Immigration8%
Political corruption/leadership7%
The economy7%
Health care6%

As is frequently the case in responses to this item, there were clear differences between partisans in which problems were most salient to them. COVID-19 was far and away the most frequent response among Democrats, 35% of whom chose it as the most important problem, followed at some distance by political corruption and leadership and the arguably related “health care,” each of which were chosen by 11% of Democrats. COVID-19 was also the single most common problem cited by Republicans, at 19%; but in a hallmark of Texas polling, border security and immigration were the next most common responses (at 16% and 13% respectively) — meaning that this cluster of issues led the GOP field. No other problem earned double digit shares. COVID-19 was also the most oft-cited issue among independents (26%).

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Coronavirus/COVID-1935%26%19%
Border security1%7%16%
Immigration2%7%13%
Political corruption/leadership11%9%3%
The economy3%11%9%
Health care11%6%1%

Asked about the direction of Texas, 41% said the state was heading in the right direction, but 47% said the state was on the wrong track. This is the most negative overall reading in the UT data set since May 2011, when only 36% said right direction and 46%, wrong track. In April, judgments were dead even (43/43).

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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%

Most Texans also continue to describe their economic situation as either about the same as a year ago (43%) or worse off than a year ago (20% somewhat and 11% a lot worse off). There has not been a significant worsening since April polling after a huge reversal in this report between February and April of 2020 when the state was shut down.

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categoryTotal
A lot better off6%
Somewhat better off18%
About the same43%
Somewhat worse off20%
A lot worse off11%
Don't know2%

Asked whether Texas’ significant population growth has been good or bad for the state, 43% thought it was a good thing, 32% said it was bad, and 25% didn’t have an opinion.

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categoryTotal
Good43%
Bad32%
Don't have an opinion25%

Asked about the state’s increasing racial and ethnic diversity, a near majority (48%) of Texans said that this change was a cause for optimism, while 31% say that it is a cause for concern.

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categoryTotal
A cause for optimism48%
A cause for concern31%
Don't know/No opinion21%

The 2020 election and voting

As we reported last week, Donald Trump led Joe Biden in a head-to-head trial ballot 48-44. More discussion of that result can be found here.

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categoryTotal
Donald Trump48%
Joe Biden44%
Haven't thought about it enough to have an opinion8%

We include Joe Biden’s favorability ratings from the poll in this release. At this stage, Biden continues to appear to bear some of the scars of the divisive Democratic primary election. His overall favorability ratings are 38% favorable and 51% unfavorable.

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categoryTotal
Very favorable18%
Somewhat favorable20%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable8%
Somewhat unfavorable12%
Very unfavorable39%
Don't know/No opinion3%

Breaking down this result by party identification strongly suggests that Republicans have made up their minds about Biden, and most have unfavorable views of him — he’s at 11% favorable and 82% unfavorable (71% very unfavorable). Democrats are less intense in their embrace of the presumptive Democratic candidate at this stage: 75% view him favorably, only 35% very favorably, and 16% view him unfavorably.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Very favorable35%7%5%
Somewhat favorable40%10%6%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable8%20%5%
Somewhat unfavorable12%13%11%
Very unfavorable4%42%71%
Don't know/No opinion1%9%2%

With a handful of Texas Congressional seats being hotly contested in Texas, the generic Congressional trial ballot finds 47% of Texans saying that they would cast their vote for the Republican candidate in their district, and 44% favoring Democratic candidates. While such items generally overestimate Democratic turnout at this distance from the election compared to typical November election results, the 3-point margin amidst trivial amounts of potential cross-voting does reflect increased competitiveness in the state, particularly in the urban and suburban regions of the state where Republican incumbents have come under increased electoral pressure in the last two election cycles, and appear to be under similar pressures in 2020.

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categoryTotal
The Republican candidate47%
The Democratic candidate44%
Haven't thought about it enough to have an opinion9%

These pressures have brought new attention to independent voters, who made up 12% of the sample in this poll. This group of “true independents” – which doesn’t include partisan “leaners” – were characteristically less fixed in their preferences. A plurality were undecided (43%), while a third reported favoring Republican candidates (33%) and about a quarter (24%) favored Democrats.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
The Republican candidate2%33%91%
The Democratic candidate94%24%3%
Haven't thought about it enough to have an opinion4%43%5%

The candidates in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary run-off election remain largely unknown to most Texans. Early voting in this election started just as the poll was concluding, in advance of the July 14 run-off election. Historical precedent suggests a very low voter turnout, a situation rendered even more uncertain by the surging pandemic.

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categoryTotal
Very favorable9%
Somewhat favorable14%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable19%
Somewhat unfavorable7%
Very unfavorable8%
Don't know/No opinion44%

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categoryTotal
Very favorable7%
Somewhat favorable11%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable19%
Somewhat unfavorable6%
Very unfavorable8%
Don't know/No opinion50%

Looking exclusively at the Democratic candidates, M.J. Hegar enjoys a modest advantage over Royce West in name recognition among the broad pool of potential voters: 38% of Democrats expressed a favorable view of her, 9% an unfavorable view, and 53% were either neutral or had no opinion. West appears less well-known than Hegar: 29% of Democrats viewed him favorably, 4% unfavorably, and 66% were either neutral or had no opinion.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Very favorable15%6%3%
Somewhat favorable23%8%7%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable19%20%18%
Somewhat unfavorable6%6%8%
Very unfavorable3%9%13%
Don't know/No opinion34%51%51%

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Very favorable12%3%2%
Somewhat favorable17%3%6%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable20%26%16%
Somewhat unfavorable2%4%10%
Very unfavorable2%9%13%
Don't know/No opinion46%55%53%

Amidst ongoing state and local stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic and a series of fights in the courts over the laws and practices governing voting by mail, the poll asked Texans: “If all Texans were allowed to vote by mail in the November 2020 general election, would you be more likely to cast your ballot by mail, or to cast your ballot in person?” A plurality of Texans reported that they would opt to vote in person but early, though nearly a third (32%) said they would opt to vote by mail if they could, per the framing in the question.  

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categoryTotal
In-person early42%
In-person on election day21%
By mail32%
Don't intend to vote1%
Don't know/Unsure5%

There were big differences between Democrats and Republicans, consistent with recent political conflict around the voting process (and, likely, the view of the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic). More than half of Democrats said they would vote by mail in this scenario, compared to only 13% of Republicans.

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
In-person early29%41%54%
In-person on election day14%15%28%
By mail52%34%13%
Don't intend to vote0%2%1%
Don't know/Unsure6%8%4%

Asked directly about whether all Texans should be allowed to vote by mail in the 2020 general election, 52% supported such a change and 40% opposed it, with Democrats heavily in favor, Republicans largely opposed, and independents slightly in favor but, characteristically, with a large chunk undecided.  

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categoryTotal
Favor52%
Oppose40%
Don't know/No opinion9%

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CategoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Favor88%45%21%
Oppose7%32%72%
Don't know/No opinion5%23%7%

About the poll

The poll surveyed a sample of 1200 self-declared registered voters in Texas June 19-29, 2020. The margin of error of the poll was +/-2.83%, (3.28% adjusted for weighting). Data was collected over the internet by YouGov. More detailed methodological information about how the poll was conducted is contained in the summary document released last Thursday, and will be appended to the summary document released Monday. The summary file, cross tabs, codebook & data files will be available Monday at the Texas Politics Project Polling Data archive page.