The View From Texas: Approval of Political Leaders

September 8, 2021
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Texas | US Politics
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A traditional Republican stronghold, Texas has long been an ambitious target for the Democratic Party. In 2018, Beto O’Rourke narrowly lost to Ted Cruz in the closest Senate race in Texas in decades. In 2020, however, Donald Trump won the state by a still wide margin of 5.5%. And indeed, the latest research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies finds overall disapproval of President Joe Biden’s job performance by a similar margin.

In a poll conducted late last month 44% of Texans polled say they disapprove of Biden’s job performance so far, while 39% say they approve of his performance—resulting in a net approval rating of -5%.  

Approval is largely partisan. Among those who voted for Joe Biden in 2020, 73% say they approve of his performance against just 8% who say they disapprove. Conversely, 78% of those who voted for Donald Trump say they disapprove of Biden’s performance (including 67% who disapprove strongly), while just 11% say they approve. 

On specific policy issues, however, there is some nuance. Biden sees plurality approval for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic (+4% net). Slightly more 2020 Biden voters disapprove of his performance in this area (11%) than disapprove of his overall performance, but this increase in disapproval is made up by the equally slightly higher proportion of 2020 Biden voters who approve of his handling of the pandemic (76%, including 32% who approve strongly) than approve of his overall job performance. Further, one in five 2020 Trump voters (19%) in Texas also approves of his pandemic response.

In all other areas, Biden sees only net disapproval in Texas, most of it in double digits, ranging from -24% net on immigration and -20% net on relations with China to -13% net on crime/policing and -10% net on the economy. Only with respect to environmental policy (-2% net) does Biden approach a neutral approval rating.

Meanwhile, Republican political leaders in Texas also see mostly net disapproval. Senator Ted Cruz evokes a narrowly negative approval rating (-2%), as does Governor Greg Abbott (-3%). Only Senator John Cornyn sees a positive net approval rating overall (+1%), but it should be noted that nearly as many respondents say they approve of Senator Cornyn (29%) as say they neither approve nor disapprove (also 29%) and as say they disapprove (28%). 

Approval for Cruz and Abbott tracks more closely along partisan lines. 61% of Trump voters in Texas approve of Ted Cruz’s job performance (including 31% who strongly approve) against 67% of Biden voters in Texas who disapprove of his performance, including 52% who strongly disapprove. Likewise, 66% of Trump voters approve of Abbott’s job performance, while 74% of Biden voters disapprove of it. 

On the policies, Abbott’s approval ratings are more mixed than Biden’s. The Texas Governor has a negative approval rating with regard to the coronavirus pandemic (-11% net) and on the Environment (-6% net), in contrast to Biden, who sees positive or nearly neutral approval only in these areas. On housing (-1% net) and immigration (+1% net), Greg Abbott sees almost neutral ratings—though partisan divisions are readily apparent on immigration. At the same time, his approval rating is positive for the Economy overall (+5 net), even as specific economic policy areas as addressing unemployment (-2% net) and taxes (also -2% net) see negative approval. Finally, regarding policing/crime, the Governor sees slightly positive approval (+2% net).

Altogether, Texas is becoming an increasingly contentious state. Both Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican Governor Greg Abbott see net negative overall approval ratings as well as net negative approval on a number of policy areas. Abbott, who is up for re-election next year, sees strongest disapproval with regard to the coronavirus pandemic—the one area where Biden sees positive approval in Texas, suggesting that the pandemic will continue to be a key political issue even while as many as half of Texans have now been vaccinated against the virus.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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