The public opinion underpinning of Texas GOP leaders' pivot back to immigration and border security

Flanked by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Governor Greg Abbott issued an indignation-filled announcement that he would be deploying 1,000 National Guard troops to the border, per the Texas Tribune, to “provide assistance at temporary holding facilities” as the humanitarian situation at the border continues to receive national and international attention.

While there are real public policy and human rights issues to be addressed here, the action does not take place in a political vacuum, particularly when it comes to partisan patterns in public opinion related to immigration, border security, and, given the Big Three’s sharp criticism of both, of the federal government in general and Congress in particular.

We wrote earlier this week about the very real possibility that despite a legislative session defined by a concerted effort to focus on "the big issues," it would be difficult for statewide leaders to provide their incumbent members with much insulation from the chaotic national political environment based on legislative acheivements. The public unveiling of another National Guard deployment accompanied by sharp criticism of a national government that includes a Republican President and Senate majority hedges bets on those legislative achievements -- and nods heavily toward the Republican primaries in March 2020. 

Below is a quick round-up of some relevant polling data from the June 2019 UT/Texas Tribune Poll.

Most important problem facing the state of Texas:

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Border security17%
Health care8%
Political corruption/leadership6%
Gun control/gun violence5%

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Border security3%12%30%
Health care14%7%2%
Political corruption/leadership13%4%1%
Gun control/gun violence6%2%4%

Pre-legislative session, open-ended question on what voters think should be the legislature's priority:

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Immigration/Border Security23%
Health Care7%
Property Taxes6%
Gun Control3%

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Immigration/Border Security9%25%36%
Health Care14%4%2%
Property Taxes3%5%10%
Gun Control5%3%0%

Congressional job approval:

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Approve strongly4%
Approve somewhat14%
Neither approve nor disapprove19%
Disapprove somewhat21%
Disapprove strongly39%
Don't know3%

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Approve strongly4%2%4%
Approve somewhat15%11%14%
Neither approve nor disapprove21%21%17%
Disapprove somewhat27%16%18%
Disapprove strongly27%45%46%
Don't know5%4%1%

Donald Trump's job approval on immigration and border security:

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Approve strongly34%
Approve somewhat15%
Neither approve nor disapprove5%
Disapprove somewhat6%
Disapprove strongly39%
Don’t know1%

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Approve strongly4%25%62%
Approve somewhat7%16%23%
Neither approve nor disapprove3%6%6%
Disapprove somewhat5%10%5%
Disapprove strongly79%39%4%
Don’t know1%4%0%