University of Texas / Texas Politics Project Poll Shows Trump Leading Clinton Amidst Signs of Disunity in Both Parties

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Donald Trump41%
Hillary Clinton33%
Someone else19%
Haven't thought about it enough to have an opinion8%

A University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll shows Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton by a margin of 41 percent to 33 percent in a head-to-head trial ballot match-up in Texas, with 19 percent preferring someone else, and 8 percent saying that they don’t yet know who they would vote for.

The margin between the two major candidates changed only slightly when Libertarian candidate Gary Johnston was included. In that three-way match-up, the results showed Trump at 39 percent, Clinton at 32 percent and Johnson at 7 percent. 

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The Republican Donald Trump39%
The Democrat Hillary Clinton32%
The Libertarian Gary Johnson7%
Someone else14%
Haven't thought about it enough to have an opinion8%

Trump’s lead should be greeted with little surprise in a GOP dominated Texas, given that the general election remains more than four months away. To the extent that the past is any guide to what has already been a turbulent election season, these early results could well portend an even larger Republican margin on Election Day should the current attitudinal patterns toward the candidates and their parties remain broadly in place. This election season has been fraught with surprises, and Donald Trump’s presence in the race is likely to be a source of unexpected political shifts. But those shifts would have to be seismic to upend the Republican advantage in the presidential race in Texas.

The poll also sheds light on some of the central questions being asked about the public response in Texas to the national presidential race. The first major non-partisan poll since the March primaries provides insight into the transition from the primary contests to the general election.

Just how much are Texans thinking about their vote choice as the lesser of two evils?  

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I want Donald Trump to be elected president45%
I don't want Hillary Clinton to be elected president55%

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I want Hillary Clinton to be elected president57%
I don't want Donald Trump to be elected president43%

After respondents were asked about their presidential preferences, those who chose one of the major party candidates were asked which of two statements better describes their vote choice:  I want [their chosen candidate] to be elected president,” or I don’t want [opposing candidate] to be elected president.”  While there is skepticism of the presumptive candidates in both parties, reservations about the nominee and antipathy toward the opposing candidate are most acute in the Republican Party. Among those who said that they would vote for Donald Trump, 45 percent said they wanted Donald Trump to be President, but more – 55 percent – said they didn’t want Hillary Clinton elected president. Among Clinton voters, 57 percent said that they were voting for Clinton, while the remaining 43 percent said that they didn’t want Trump to become president. 

While these and other results suggest limits to the breadth of support for the presumptive nominees, the intensely negative views of the opposing candidates among partisans is likely to lend an angry cohesion to each party’s adherents: 85 percent of Republicans have a very unfavorable view of Clinton, while 80 percent of Democrats have very unfavorable views of Trump.

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Very favorable4%18%26%
Somewhat favorable3%12%27%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable5%16%13%
Somewhat unfavorable5%10%14%
Very unfavorable80%41%18%
Don't know/no opinion2%4%1%


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Very favorable38%5%3%
Somewhat favorable29%8%1%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable12%14%4%
Somewhat unfavorable8%8%6%
Very unfavorable11%59%85%
Don't know/no opinion2%6%1%

How are Texas Republicans reconciling themselves to Donald Trump as their presumptive presidential nominee, especially those who supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the primaries?  

When we last polled in Texas in February, Republican views of Trump were 47 percent favorable and 42 percent unfavorable.  A little more than three months after the Texas primary, the UT/Texas Politics Project Poll found some movement in Trump’s favor, with 53 percent of Republicans viewing Trump favorably and 32 percent viewing him unfavorably. Of those who said they supported Ted Cruz in the Texas primary, Trump’ fav/unfav was 42/39, with 20 percent still on the fence. But whatever ambivalence this might suggest, 69 percent of those who reported supporting Cruz in the primaries would vote for Trump against Clinton. For comparative perspective: Trump’s favorability ratings among Republicans are lower than Cruz’s (60 percent), but not by much; and they are higher than Senator John Cornyn’s (whose job approval ratings are at 40 percent approve, 21 percent disapprove). Trump’s progress since February, and the four-plus month period between now and the election, suggest that at least as of now, Trump can count on Texas Republicans in November.  It's too soon to tell how many will stay home, but large scale defections to Clinton seem unlikely.

Given Bernie Sanders’ reluctance to suspend his campaign, are his supporters embracing, or at least accepting, Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic nominee? 

Among those who reported supporting Sanders in the primary, 25 percent held a favorable view of Clinton while 49 percent held an unfavorable view. Forty percent of Sanders’ supporters said that they would vote for Clinton in the general election, while 44 percent said they would vote for someone else. Regarding the meme earlier in the campaign that Sanders and Trump voters were somehow materially similar, 10 percent of the reported Sanders supporters said they would vote for Trump – which is less than 2 percent of the overall electorate.

So overall, are both parties feeling the effects of divisions that became evident during the primary contests?  

Attitudes toward both Clinton and Trump suggest that while both parties, to oversimplify, have some healing to do, the Democratic Party’s situation is, however stubborn, a bit more straightforward. Sanders’ supporters remain slow to warm to Clinton, especially in the conspicuous absence of leading-by-example from their candidate. Nonetheless, among all Democrats, Clinton’s favorability rating is 67 percent favorable and 19 percent unfavorable. Among self-described liberals, she’s only slightly weaker (65/25). As a group, Clinton voters hold a strongly positive view of their party with 75 percent viewing it favorably and only 9 percent holding an unfavorable view. Here, too, there are still some Berns to be healed: Among Sanders’ supporters in the primary, 44 percent have a favorable view of the Democratic Party, while 36 have an unfavorable view, potentially the result of the widespread suspicion among Sanders’ supporters that the party did not give their man a fair shake in the primaries.

Trump’s situation is more complicated, evidenced in the skepticism toward the Republican Party among supporters of the final two candidates in the GOP primaries. In stark contrast to Clinton supporters’ views of the Democratic Party, only 50 percent of Trump voters held a favorable view of the Republican Party, while almost a third (31 percent) held an unfavorable view. Attitudes were slightly worse among Cruz supporters, among whom 45 percent viewed the party favorably with 36 percent holding an unfavorable view. 

Among important subgroups of the party, 68 percent of self-identified conservatives said that they would vote for Trump, with 21 percent saying they would vote for someone else – likely the home of a (very) small trove of libertarian votes, but just as likely a group that will eventually come home to Trump given their views of the alternative. Among whites, 54 percent supported Trump, with another 20 percent opting for “someone else,” also a very likely source of votes to return to Trump as long as Clinton is the only major alternative. A result among Republican constituencies that stands out: Trump is viewed less favorably by those who identify with the Tea Party (51 percent favorable / 35 percent unfavorable) than by Republicans who don’t call themselves Tea Partiers (62 percent favorable / 22 percent unfavorable).

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categoryDemocratRepublicanTea Party
Very favorable3%38%17%
Somewhat favorable2%25%34%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable4%14%13%
Somewhat unfavorable5%10%16%
Very unfavorable85%12%19%
Don't know/no opinion1%1%1%

Is Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s presence on the ballot a potential spoiler for Donald Trump in Texas?  

No. When added to the ballot, Johnson appears, not surprisingly, to have drawn mostly from the “someone else” category in the Clinton-Trump head-to-head match-up, which dropped from 19 percent to 14 percent with the Libertarian included. The “don’t know” respondents apparently really don’t know — the result remained the same with or without Johnson on the ballot.

For more results from the June 2016 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll, see the Latest Poll page.  For detailed information about the poll's methodology, see the polling archive entry for June 2016.