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UT/Texas Politics Project Poll: Majority of Texans Oppose Banning Abortion; Texans Saying State Is on the Wrong Track Reaches Historic High

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AUSTIN, Texas — In new polling conducted primarily during the week prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, a University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll finds only 15% of Texans support a complete ban on abortion access. Although 37% of Texas voters support the state’s trigger law that would ban abortion in most cases in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, no more than 36% would foreclose all access to legal abortion across various circumstances.

The poll surveyed 1,200 registered voters in Texas representative of the demographic characteristics of the state’s population from June 16 to June 24.

“This is only the latest in a long series of poll results illustrating that most Texans oppose making abortion legally unavailable,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at UT Austin and a co-founder of the polling project. “Efforts by the U.S. Supreme Court and Texas’ political leadership to end access to abortion, especially in cases of rape and incest, go far beyond what a majority of Texas voters support.”

The poll also found a majority of Texans’ attitudes toward gun control measures remained unchanged and expressed support for gun control measures in similar magnitudes to polling conducted prior to the school shooting in Uvalde. Seventy-eight percent supported expanded background checks on all gun purchases in the United States, including at gun shows and during private sales, while 16% opposed such changes. When asked about allowing courts “to require a person determined to be a risk to themselves or others to temporarily surrender guns in their possession,” commonly called a “red flag law,” 66% expressed support while 24% were opposed.

Texans’ opinions about the causes of mass shootings illustrate the continued divide in attitudes, especially across partisan lines. Half of Democrats polled said that current gun laws are the factor most to blame for mass shootings in the U.S., while the factors most frequently cited by Texas Republicans include the “failure of the mental health system to identify dangerous individuals” (25%) and “unstable family situations” (21%). By contrast, only 6% of Republicans cite current gun laws as the most important factor in incidents of mass shootings.

“It’s no surprise to find Democratic voters in favor of stricter gun laws,” said Joshua Blank, research director at the Texas Politics Project. “And while it may seem paradoxical, most Texas Republicans support gun ownership and blame mass shootings on factors other than current gun laws – yet large shares also support many of the most prominent gun safety proposals, like universal background checks and red flag laws.”

In regard to the economy and the direction of the state and country, many Texans hold negative views, including the largest shares of negative responses in the poll’s history – 59% said the state was on the wrong track, as opposed to 31% who said the state was headed in the right direction.

Economic conditions play an outsized role in Texans’ broadly negative mood: 53% said their personal economic situation is worse than it was a year ago; 58% said the Texas economy is worse than it was a year ago; and 73% said the national economy is worse than it was a year ago. All three of these are the worst ratings in the history of the UT polling project.

Republican candidates continued to lead in Texas’ high-profile 2022 election contests. Incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott held a 6-point lead over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke among registered voters, 45% to 39%, with 3% choosing third-party candidates and 13% either someone else or remaining undecided. In the rematch of the 2018 race for lieutenant governor, incumbent Republican Dan Patrick leads Democratic challenger Mike Collier 38% to 26%, with 11% preferring Libertarian Shanna Steele, and 31% either “someone else” or remaining undecided. Incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxon leads Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza 37% to 29%.

“Texas voters have yet to focus in on these races, but there is nothing in the current data to suggest the Democrats are poised for an upset,” said Daron Shaw, a professor of government and a co-founder of the polling project. “GOP candidates lead by anywhere from 6 to 12 points, which is in line with what we would expect of partisan vote choice in Texas. The big question for the Democrats is how to convince voters that Texas elections aren’t a referendum on the president and his party.”

Full results from the poll and methodological information, including the questionnaire reporting results, cross tabs, and downloadable graphics of results, are available on the Texas Politics Project website.