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UT/Texas Politics Project Poll Offers Preview of 2024 Presidential Contest in Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas — With one year to go before the 2024 presidential election, the latest University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll finds former President Donald Trump dominating a crowded Republican primary field and holding a comfortable lead in a hypothetical rematch with President Joe Biden, who faces no serious competition in the Democratic primary so far.

Looking at Republican challengers to Trump for the presidential nomination, 62% of registered voters planning to vote in the GOP primary chose Trump. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was second, with 13%, followed by former North Carolina governor and Trump-appointed ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who was the choice of 7%. Seven other candidates were the choice of 3% or less.

Trump also scored the highest among the major Republican candidates in hypothetical general election contests with Biden, leading the incumbent president 45% to 37%, with 13% preferring an unnamed “someone else” and 8% offering no opinion.

The poll surveyed 1,200 self-declared registered voters in Texas from Oct. 5–17 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points.

“Despite the extent of Donald Trump’s very public legal jeopardy and his contribution to the chaos among congressional Republicans in recent days, Donald Trump remains the most powerful gravitational force among Republican voters in Texas,” said James Henson, director of UT’s Texas Politics Project and a co-director of the poll. “None of the other candidates has demonstrated any ability to lure meaningful numbers of Texas Republican primary voters away from him.”

The poll also asked Texans about educational savings accounts and other public education issues at the center of the third special session of the 88th Texas Legislature currently underway in Austin. Poll results continue to suggest that such programs are a low priority for most Texas voters. Only 18% said they had heard “a lot” about efforts by state officials to establish a voucher, educational savings account, or school choice program.

When asked to evaluate a list of public education priorities for the Legislature to address, “school safety” was the top priority of the largest share, 30% of Texas voters, followed by teacher pay and retention with 19%, curriculum content with 14%, and parental rights had 12%. Only 7% of likely voters judged “vouchers, educational savings accounts (ESAs), or other ‘school choice’ legislation” as the Legislature’s most important educational priority.

On the issue of immigration and the flow of migrants on the Texas-Mexico border, more than a third of voters, 35%, cited immigration or border security as the most important problem facing the state. With Republican voters, 60% cited one or the other as the most important problem facing Texas, with no other problem breaking into double figures. The issues of immigration and border security were cited by only 9% of Democrats, but by 43% of independents, in a pattern seen in most UT/Texas Politics Project polling during the past decade.

“The border remains top of mind for the state’s Republican Party voters,” said Joshua Blank, research director for the Texas Politics Project. “While the Legislature and its leadership remain in conflict establishing a school choice program, any policy that seeks to remove or repel immigrants from Texas will bind the Republican majority back together, however briefly.”

Other findings related to Texas and the 2024 election:

  • Texas voters expressed more reservations about Biden’s age than about Trump’s. About two-thirds of voters, 69%, say Biden “is too old to be president in 2025,” while only 37% said the same of Trump.
  • A majority of Democrats, 52%, view him as too old in the 2024 election, with only about a third disagreeing that Biden is too old (32%) and 16% unsure. Republican voters expressed less concern about Trump’s age: Only 19% say Trump would be too old to serve in 2025, with 75% saying he wouldn’t be, and only 7% expressing no opinion.
  • In hypothetical head-to-head matchups between Biden and the top Republican candidates, only Trump bests Biden outside of the margin of error of the poll (+/- 2.83 percentage points).
  • Regarding the 2024 Texas congressional election, 47% of voters say that they will support the GOP candidate in their district compared with 38% who say that they will be supporting the Democratic candidate.
  • In the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, only 2 of the 14 potential candidates examined could be identified by 30% or more of potential Democratic primary voters: state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (30%) and U.S. Rep. Colin Allred (41%).

Complete results — including a summary with methodological information, crosstabs and data files — can be found using the links at the top of this page and the overview posted at the Texas Politics Project website.