U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas holds a narrow lead over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker among potential Republican primary voters in Texas, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
If the 2016 Republican primary election for president were held today, Cruz would have a one-point lead over Walker, 20 to 19 percent, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ben Carson trailing far behind among Texas voters. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was favored by only 8 percent of voters polled.
The Internet-based state poll was conducted between Feb. 6 and Feb. 15 by the market research firm YouGov. The sample included 1,200 self-declared registered voters and has a margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heavily favored over other potential Democratic candidates, with 62 percent of Texas Democrats selecting her as their first choice for the 2016 Democratic primary.
The poll for the presidential primary match-ups included 547 Republican and 401 Democratic voters, with margins of error of 4.19 and 4.89 percentage points respectively.
“Scott Walker’s challenge to Ted Cruz’s dominance of the still unformed 2016 field in our previous three polls is driven by his appeal to conservatives,” said James Henson, director of UT Austin’s Texas Politics Project and co-director of the poll. “The burst of national press coverage of Walker’s potential candidacy definitely boosted his standing among Texas Republicans.”
All respondents were asked their views of several state and national political figures. Forty-six percent said they had a very or somewhat favorable impression of Gov. Greg Abbott, and 28 percent indicated somewhat or very unfavorable.
Texans’ views of Congress improved slightly, from 14 percent job approval in the previous poll in October 2014 to 20 percent in the current poll. Disapproval of Congress decreased from 71 percent in October to 58 percent in February.
“While the increase in congressional job approval is nothing to write home about, the improvement of their dismal ratings over the last few years was likely helped in Texas by the Republican takeover in the 2014 elections,” Henson said.
The poll also asked the Texas voters to rank the most important issues facing Texas and the nation. According to the findings:
- The most important issues facing the country are the economy and federal spending, which were each cited by 12 percent of the respondents. National security and terrorism followed at 10 percent each.
- Twenty-one percent of voters identified border security as the most important problem facing Texas.
- Fifty-nine percent of voters think the country is headed down the wrong track, while 50 percent think Texas is headed in the right direction.
“Perceptions of the national economy are still negative, although Texans appear to see a glimmer of hope amid the gloom,” said Daron Shaw, UT Austin government professor and co-director of the poll. “Meanwhile, the perception that border security and immigration are major issues facing the state has been a persistent finding of the poll since we began it back in 2008.”
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.