If the 2016 Republican primary election for president were held today, Republican voters in Texas would strongly favor U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz over other GOP hopefuls, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll.
Twenty-five percent of registered Republicans in Texas would vote for Cruz, the first-term senator from Texas, in a presidential primary, followed by 13 percent for Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and 11 percent for Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry would receive 10 percent of the vote.
"Senator Cruz appears well on his way to becoming the pre-eminent Texas elected official in national politics," said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at The University of Texas at Austin and a co-director of the poll. "While we are still in the very early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, these findings demonstrate Cruz's solid standing among Texas Republicans especially the most conservative among them."
On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was heavily favored, with 66 percent of registered Texas Democrats indicating they would vote for her in the 2016 Democratic primary election for president. Vice President Joe Biden was a distant second, with 11 percent.
The statewide poll, conducted May 31 to June 9, surveyed 1,200 registered Texas voters and had a margin of error of 2.83 percentage points. For the primary election question, 492 respondents indicated that they usually vote in Republican primaries, producing a margin of error of 5.27 percentage points, while 376 indicated that they usually vote in Democratic primaries, producing a margin of error of 5.89 percentage points.
The poll also asked questions related to the 2014 gubernatorial election in Texas. Overall, 25 percent of registered voters said they would vote for Gov. Rick Perry if he were to run for governor in 2014, while 38 percent said they would vote against him. Thirty-one percent said they would "wait and see" who is running against Perry.
Among Republican voters, however, 45 percent said they would vote for Perry in the 2014 Republican primary for governor, with only 19 percent choosing Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. Twenty-five percent said they haven't thought about it enough to have an opinion. The numbers are similar to a statewide poll conducted in February, in which Republican voters favored Perry over Abbott 49 to 17 percent. Perry has not yet announced whether he will run for re-election in 2014.
"These numbers suggest an interesting choice for the governor," said Daron Shaw, a government professor at The University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll.
"On the one hand, if he wants to be president, he doesn't want to get bogged down in primary and general election fights in his home state. He might therefore be inclined to skip these and raise money for a presidential run. On the other hand, he is still a commanding figure in Texas and another impressive win could re-energize those who were disappointed in his 2012 presidential campaign."
In the Texas race for lieutenant governor, 19 percent of GOP voters said they would vote for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst if the 2014 Republican primary were held today, with 10 percent indicating support for Texas state Sen. Dan Patrick. However, 61 percent said they haven't thought about it enough to have an opinion.
This is the latest in a series of online polls conducted and jointly funded 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. Additional poll results will be released and available at the website throughout the week.