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UT/Texas Politics Project Poll: Parties Sharply Divided Over Social Issues; Republicans Support Both Trump and DeSantis

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Capitol Mall 2023

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Republicans view former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis most favorably among a field of current and likely candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll.

Among Republican registered voters, 78% view Trump favorably, with only 16% holding an unfavorable view. DeSantis, who has not formally declared his candidacy but is widely expected to do so, is viewed favorably by 73% of Texas Republican voters, with only 10% viewing him unfavorably.

“To say this is an early snapshot of the Republican presidential contest is a disservice to early snapshots, but the poll does show us that Texas Republicans know and like the frontrunners,” said Daron Shaw, University Distinguished Teaching Professor and the Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Chair of State Politics at The University of Texas at Austin. “To have two top-tier candidates at this stage of the race reminds us of Ford-Reagan in 1976 or Clinton-Obama in 2008.”

The poll also finds large majorities of Texans said that it’s important for the Legislature to improve the reliability of the state’s energy grid and water supply while reducing property taxes. There is a larger partisan divide over the direction lawmakers should take on issues that continue to roil politics across the nation, including abortion, transgender rights and public education.

The following priorities were judged “extremely” or “very” important goals to accomplish during the current legislative session by more than 60% of respondents, including at least a plurality of both Republicans and Democrats:

  • Improve the reliability of the state’s energy grid (48% extremely important / 32% very important).
  • Increase funding for school safety (41% extremely important / 31% very important).
  • Reduce property taxes (41% extremely important / 27% very important).
  • Improve the reliability of the state’s water supply (40% extremely important / 33% very important).

In the aftermath of the near-total ban on abortion in Texas following legislation passed in the 2021 session and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, 46% found it extremely (32%) or very important (14%) to expand legal access to abortion in Texas, while 37% found it not very, or not at all, important.

Significant majorities also continue to support widely discussed limits on gun access: 76% supported raising the legal age to purchase any firearm from 18 to 21, while 72% supported the concept of what are commonly known as “red flag laws,” in which courts may require people determined to be a risk to themselves or others to temporarily surrender guns in their possession.

“Red flag laws and raising the age limit for legally purchasing a firearm have repeatedly received majority support in Texas polling in recent years, including from a majority of Republicans,” said James Henson, director the Texas Politics Project and co-director of the poll. “Bills that would implement such laws have been introduced in the Legislature again this session but aren’t moving through the process, which is a familiar occurrence in Texas.”

The poll was conducted April 14-23 among a sample of 1,200 registered voters in Texas and has a margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points (3.39 percentage points adjusted for weighting). Data collection was carried out using the internet by YouGov.

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