AUSTIN, Texas — Texas voters support businessman Donald Trump over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, though large portions of each candidates’ supporters describe their choice as a vote against the opposing candidate rather than a vote in favor of their chosen candidate, according to the latest poll conducted by The University of Texas at Austin.
The poll results suggest that if the 2016 general election for U.S. president was held today, Trump would win Texas’ 38 electoral votes with 41 percent support over Clinton’s 33 percent. Nineteen percent of Texans polled said they would choose someone else.
“As one might have guessed, Trump leads in Texas but is underachieving given what Republican candidates have done recently in statewide elections,” said UT Austin government professor Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll.
When asked to describe their vote choice as a vote for their candidate or against the opposing candidate, 44 percent of Trump voters said that their vote reflected their desire to elect Trump as president, while 55 percent said that their vote reflected their desire to vote against Clinton. Among Clinton voters, 57 percent expressed the desire to vote for the former secretary of state, while 43 percent wanted to vote against the real estate developer and former reality show host.
“Neither candidate can fairly be described as having captured the hearts and minds of supporters in their own parties,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at UT Austin and co-director of the poll. “But in an echo of national polling, hostility toward the opposing party’s candidate is a powerful force in Texans’ attitudes toward the presidential race.”
The internet-based statewide poll was conducted between June 10 and June 20 by the market research firm YouGov. The sample included 1,200 self-declared registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Polling for vote choice reasoning included 486 likely Trump voters and 392 likely Clinton voters, with margins of error of 4.45 and 4.95 percentage points respectively.
The margin between the two major candidates changed only slightly when Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was included. In that three-way matchup, the result was Trump, 39 percent; Clinton, 32 percent; and Gary Johnson, 7 percent. In this case, 14 percent of respondents said they would choose someone else, and 8 percent did not record their opinion in either case.
“Texas voters appear to be looking around for an alternative,” Shaw said. “Roughly 1 out of every 5 respondents said they would support someone besides Trump or Clinton. We know talk is cheap, but that’s a big number.”
Neither Trump nor Clinton fared well in voter’s projections of how he or she would perform as president. In the poll, 30 percent of voters believed Trump would be a “good” or “great” president, compared with Clinton with 26 percent. However, both were projected to be a “poor” or “terrible” president by 56 percent of Texans polled.
“The results don’t reveal much in the way of generosity or open-mindedness about the candidates evident among partisans in either party,” Henson said, “Eighty-seven percent of Democrats think Trump would make a poor or terrible president, and 90 percent of Republicans think the same of Hillary Clinton.”
Both the Democratic and Republican Parties were viewed unfavorably by 50 and 51 percent (respectively) of Texans polled. Texas voters have sided with Republicans in the past nine election cycles.
This is the latest in a series of polls conducted by UT Austin’s Texas Politics Project. Graphics, a summary, and crosstabs are publicly available for media, research and teaching at the Texas Politics Project website. On Tuesday, the group will release results from the same poll on a range of policy questions including immigration, trade and other current issues.