A plurality of Texans would favor taking the authority to draw new congressional and legislative maps away from the Legislature and governor and giving it to an independent, appointed commission, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll.
The Feb. 8-15 statewide poll of 800 registered Texas voters showed that 42 percent favored redistricting reform, with 27 percent opposing and 30 percent expressing no opinion.
"Despite the recent high-visibility difficulties in the redistricting process in the state, the most recent survey is consistent with the established pattern of past surveys we've done," says James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project and a lecturer in the Department of Government at The University of Texas at Austin, who oversees the survey.
"A plurality in the neighborhood of 40 percent typically supports reform, but a large chunk of those surveyed don't know if they support such a change or not," says Henson. "This probably reflects that, despite the news coverage of the issue when there are problems, the process is fairly technical, so many people don't have a well-formed opinion about it."
Henson says the results related to Texans' positions on policy issues such as abortion and the death penalty fell into established patterns, which are largely conservative in Texas. But on a question more sensitive to immediate conditions, the number of people who said "the economy" was the most important problem facing the country jumped 8 percentage points. This suggests that Texans are increasingly focused on overall economic performance as the election season heats up.
Thirty percent of those polled said the economy was the most important problem facing the country today, up from 22 percent a year ago. Seventeen percent identified federal spending and the national debt.
In contrast, 11 percent of respondents identified the economy as the most important problem facing Texas. Fourteen percent said immigration was the most important problem facing the state, with another 14 percent identifying border security as the most important problem for Texas.
Texans seem evenly split on the issue of immigration reform, with 46 percent supporting and 45 percent opposing the passage of a comprehensive federal immigration overhaul that would provide a pathway to citizenship for most illegal aliens currently living in the United States.
This is the latest in a series of online polls conducted by the Texas Politics Project and The Texas Tribune.
Comprehensive poll results, information about methodology and the survey dataset will be available at the Texas Politics Project website later this week. A full summary of the poll [PDF] is available at The Texas Tribune website.