TYLER (May 25, 2023) – Texans have shown that their issue preferences have remained constant as the Texas Legislature has drafted and considered thousands of bills in the 88th session, according to the latest survey by The University of Texas at Tyler Center for Opinion Research.
“Border security, gun control and inflation remain top concerns among registered voters in the state. However, the ranking of which policy was most important to Texans changed in May,” said Dr. Ken Wink, UT Tyler professor of public administration.
Poll results reflected heightened concern over gun violence in local communities was expressed by seven of 10 Texans polled (69%, very concerned). This survey reflects the views of 1,413 registered voters in Texas who participated in the poll online or over the phone between May 10 and May 21, days after the Allen Mall shooting on May 6.
These sentiments are higher than any prior UT Tyler polls. That includes surveys released in February 2023 (67%), October 2022 (64%) and August 2022 (67%), Wink stated.
Texas Republicans kept full control of the government after the 2022 elections, but 59% of voters believe the state is on the wrong track. That is a 5% increase from February. Still, Texas Republicans have a clear advantage to set the direction on many issues. Texas voters trust Republicans more than Democrats to reduce crime (20% more), secure the border (37% more), handle the electric grid (6% more) and improve education (1% more). The survey also showed that Gov. Greg Abbott’s approval held steady at 49% approve and 48% disapprove.
“A special session to allow time for the legislature to consider school choice legislation would give time to advance a policy the public seems to support, but approval is slipping as the future of the policy is uncertain,” said Wink.
The UT Tyler poll asked voters if they support school choice prior to the 2022 election. In February, 60% of voters supported allowing parents to use public funds to send their children to private schools if it were described as “school choice.” Almost three-months later, public support fell 6% if the term was also used (54%). Public support for the policy is 52% if the phrase school choice is not used. A majority of voters still appear to support the education savings accounts, generally, but as local leaders raise their voices it is clear that the window of opportunity to pass this legislation may be closing if it does not happen this summer, according to Wink.
Early Look to 2024
The pessimistic outlook of voters could provide an opportunity for Texas Democrats to offer a new alternative. U.S. Rep. Colin Allred joined this effort by announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. However, Allred faces two familiar challenges – name recognition and incumbency.
Voters who were polled were largely unfamiliar with Rep. Allred (48% did not know enough). Despite being unknown in corners of the state, Allred sits 5% behind Sen. Ted Cruz in a head-to head contest with 21% hoping for someone else or undecided.
Politics of Exceptions
One year after the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in the Dobbs case was leaked, the issue of reproductive rights is still of interest to most voters in Texas. Two-thirds of voters have heard “a lot” about the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. A total of 42% of registered voters strongly or somewhat approve of the judicial opinion. This opinion has remained stable since February and is 4% lower than May 2022 and September 2022. Opposition to the Dobbs decision is as high as 49% of the voters, and this plurality is striking because 45% of registered voters say they are upset, one year later. Eighty-nine percent of voters showed clear support for policies that may allow exceptions to an abortion ban if a woman’s health is at stake, including 48% that would not put a time limit on the exception during a pregnancy. The public also supports an exception in the case of rape or incest (89%), but the plurality is that this only be available the first trimester (36%).
For additional poll results, visit uttyler.edu/politicalscience/pollingcenter.
With a mission to improve educational and health care outcomes for East Texas and beyond, UT Tyler offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs to 10,000 students. UT Tyler recently merged with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (now known as UT Tyler Health Science Center). Through its alignment with UT Tyler Health Science Center (HSC) and UT Health East Texas, UT Tyler has unified these entities to serve Texas with quality education, cutting-edge research and excellent patient care. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News & World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.