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Latest UT Tyler Poll Reveals Texan Voter Views on Current Issues and Candidates 

TYLER, Texas (February 29, 2024) – The Center for Opinion Research at The University of Texas at  Tyler conducted their latest public opinion poll of registered Texas voters February 18 – 26. Among findings were those related to candidate favorability, candidate preference in the Texas primaries  and the general election, and voter perceptions of the most important issues in the campaign. 

In a two-person race for president, former President Donald Trump leads President Joe Biden in  Texas, 46% to 42%, according to polling results. If former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley were to be  the Republican nominee, Haley leads President Biden in a hypothetical matchup 42% to 36%, a  larger margin than that of Trump but with more undecided voters. In a five-person hypothetical  election, Trump defeats Biden 41% to 37%, the same 4% margin, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gaining  13% voter support and Cornel West earning 6% voter support. However, Haley’s 6% margin  evaporates in a hypothetical five-person race, with Biden defeating Haley 36% to 33%, with  Kennedy then winning 20% of the vote and West winning 7% of the vote. 

“One of the big unanswered questions for the Republicans in their two-candidate primary race is  whether the loser’s supporters will back the party’s eventual nominee in the general election. Our  results suggest that the answer to that question is ‘no’ when it comes to Trump supporters in  Texas,” said Dr. Ken Wink, UT Tyler professor and interim center director. “It appears that many  Trump supporters would opt for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., over Nikki Haley in the general election if  Haley, rather than Trump, were to be the GOP nominee.” 

Voters’ perceptions of issues also produced some interesting results. By far and away, securing the  border was the most important issue of voters, garnering 35% of the responses. A distant second  was inflation, earning the answers of 15% of the voters. Smaller numbers of voters (9%) identified  the need for more gun control and more protection for reproductive rights as tied for the third  most important issues facing Texans. Later in the survey, when Texans were asked how Biden had  handled the border issue, 46% strongly disapproved of his handling of the issue, 15% somewhat  disapproved, 17% somewhat approved, and 11% strongly approved. “While Trump’s lead over  Biden suggests the election will be closer than the last two presidential elections involving  candidate Trump, it does not bode well for President Biden that Texans perceive he has badly  mishandled the issue they believe to be the most important,” Wink said. 

In the Texas U.S. Senate race, voters were very polarized over Sen. Ted Cruz, with an overall  unfavorable impression of Cruz, 48% to 39% favorable. U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, a potential challenger  to Cruz, had a 41% to 18% favorable over unfavorable rating, but with 29% of “do not know”  responses. 

“While the verdict may still be out on the Allred candidacy, a hypothetical match between Cruz and  Allred showed a tie with both candidates garnering 41% of the vote, while 19% said they did not  know or would likely vote for someone else,” Wink added. 

The poll was developed with a mix-method polling effort, with 1,167 respondents (865 online, 302  telephone). The margin of error with design effect was =/- 3.1%. 

With a mission to improve educational and health care outcomes for East Texas and beyond, UT  Tyler offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 10,000 students.  Through its alignment with UT Tyler Health Science Center 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.

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