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UT/TT Poll: Texas Voters Prefer Trump in 2020, With Some Reservations

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When asked whom they want as the Democratic nominee, the majority (23%) of likely Texas Democratic presidential primary voters chose Joe Biden. (Photo by Tommy Gilligan/USMA Public Affairs)

AUSTIN, Texas — Although a slight majority of Texas voters say they would rather vote for someone else than reelect President Donald Trump in 2020, none of the leading Democratic candidates currently has enough support to turn the Lone Star State blue in the presidential election, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

When asked about their likelihood of reelecting Trump in 2020, 48% of Texas voters said they are likely to vote for the incumbent (40% “definitely” and 8% “probably”), while 52% said they are unlikely to vote to reelect the president (46% “definitely not” and 6% “probably not”).

This is a 4 percentage point decrease in Trump’s support since the June 2019 poll. When asked whom they want as the Democratic nominee, likely Texas Democratic presidential primary voters chose Joe Biden (23%), followed by Elizabeth Warren (18%), Beto O’Rourke (14%), and Bernie Sanders (12%).

But the poll indicates that this could change — 39% of likely Democratic primary voters said they were somewhat or very likely to change their minds, while 54% indicated they had made up their minds.

“Texas voters haven’t really focused on the primary contest yet,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll and UT Austin government professor. “While the basic structure of the race is apparent from these early polls, what happens in Texas on March 3 is going to be significantly influenced by the results of the early elections in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.”

The poll also queried voters on a series of potential head-to-head matchups in the 2020 elections, all of which ended in the reelection of Trump. Some highlights include:

  • Trump vs. Biden: 46% would vote for Trump, 39% for Biden.
  • Trump vs. Warren: 46% would vote for Trump, 39% for Warren.
  • Trump vs. O’Rourke: 47% would vote for Trump, 41% for O’Rourke.
  • Trump vs. Sanders: 45% would vote for Trump, 40% for Sanders.
  • Trump vs. Julián Castro: 46% would vote for Trump, 33% for Castro.

“President Trump is clearly the favorite in Texas,” Shaw said. “He’s not a great fit for the state — his immigration and trade policies play a little better in the Midwest states than they do here — but the Republican base in Texas has mostly coalesced around his candidacy, and that makes him tough to beat.”

Beyond the presidential election, there are some early signs that 2020 may be a good election for some Democrats in Texas. When asked about their 2020 vote for the U.S. House of Representatives, Texas voters are split down the middle: 43% say they’ll vote Republican, 43% say they’ll vote Democratic, and 3% say they’ll vote for someone else. However, 1 in 10 voters say they have not thought about it enough to have a preference.

The 2020 ballot also features a contest for U.S. senator from Texas, with Republican John Cornyn seeking reelection. The race among Democrats to challenge Cornyn appears wide open at the moment, with several candidates vying for voters’ attention — with limited success thus far. Among likely Democratic primary voters, fewer than 1 in 4 are familiar with Chris Bell (24%), Royce West (21%), or M.J. Hegar (20%). When asked whom they will vote for, Hegar leads (12%), followed by Sema Hernandez (6%), West (5%), Amanda Edwards (4%), Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez (4%), and Bell (3%).

“The Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate has received little attention from voters, more than half of whom have yet to make a choice among a field of candidates with scant statewide name recognition,” said James Henson, co-director of the poll and executive director of the Texas Politics Project. “With comparatively more well-known Democrats either sitting the race out or making largely unsuccessful runs for the presidential nomination, Democrats so far lack a clear frontrunner to galvanize their efforts to unseat the incumbent in 2020.”

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 18 to Oct. 27 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Questions on Democratic primaries had 541 respondents and a margin of error of +/- 4.21 percentage points. Overall, 39% of respondents said they would vote in the Republican primary, 45% said the Democratic primary, 9% said they would not vote in either and 7% did not know.

This is the latest in a series of polls conducted by UT Austin’s Texas Politics Project and The Texas Tribune. Comprehensive poll results and information about methodology were released initially by The Texas Tribune. More information about the poll can be found at the Texas Politics Project website. Graphics, a summary document, crosstabs and a data file will be publicly available for research and teaching next week at the Texas Politics Project website.