College of Liberal Arts

UT/TT Poll: Weak Overall Job Approval Ratings in Texas Mask Continuing Trump Support Among GOP Voters

Thu, Jun 15, 2017
Graphic by the Texas Politics Project, June 2017.
Graphic by the Texas Politics Project, June 2017.

As controversy continues to swirl around the White House, 43 percent of Texas voters approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president, and 51 percent disapprove, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. 

Although the president’s standing among Texans has fallen slightly since the recurring poll was last conducted in February, his ratings remain strongly in positive territory among Republicans, 80 percent of whom rate his job performance positively. The directors of the poll say Texans’ views of the president are shaped by partisanship and reflect complex views of Trump’s character.

“Democrats’ views of Trump are deeply negative,” said James Henson, co-director of the poll and director of the Texas Politics Project. “The poll results show that more than 90 percent of Democrats find him neither honest or trustworthy, nor in possession of the temperament to be president.” 

The poll finds that positive views of the president’s job performance among Republicans are higher than assessments of his personal characteristics, though majorities of Texas Republicans say he has the temperament to be president and find him “honest and trustworthy.” Among all Texas registered voters, 53 and 55 percent of voters, respectively, rated him negatively on these two qualities. Voters are split on their impressions of his competency, with 46 percent viewing him as competent and 47 percent as incompetent to be president.

“Views remain as polarized as they were during the presidential campaign,” said UT Austin government professor Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll. “What’s striking is that Republicans in Texas are warming to Trump even though they have reservations about his temperament and character.”

The internet-based statewide poll was conducted June 2-11 by the public opinion research firm YouGov. The overall sample included 1,200 self-declared registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points.

When asked their opinions on health care legislation, 49 percent of Texans held unfavorable views of the Affordable Care Act, while 51 percent also view the current health care legislation passed earlier this year by the U.S. House of Representatives unfavorably.

”There is still a great deal of skepticism toward Obamacare in Texas,” said Shaw. “But favorable opinion is increasing slightly, most likely as people consider a Republican alternative that is ill-defined and potentially threatens aspects of the law that do have popular support.”

In choosing between the three branches of the federal government, 6 percent of Texans polled said they trusted the U.S. Congress or the legislative branch the most, 26 percent chose the president or executive branch, and 38 percent trusted the Supreme Court or judicial branch the most. Overall, 44 percent of respondents had a favorable view of the FBI, while 26 percent viewed the organization unfavorably.

As investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election continues and Congress considers legislation aimed at punishing Russia, the poll also probed opinions on Russia. The poll found that 56 percent of Texans had an unfavorable view of Russia, with only 11 percent expressing a favorable view.  

When asked whether the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was influenced by Russia, 47 percent of Texans did not think Russia influenced the outcome, and 39 percent thought it did. Partisanship plays a strong role in these views: Three-quarters of Democrats thought Russia influenced the outcome of the election, while only 8 percent of Republicans believed this was the case.

“Even though there is little confirmed knowledge about Russian activity in the 2016 election, Texans have strong views that fall along sharp partisan lines,” said Henson. “Most Republicans are skeptical that Russia influenced the elections, while many Democrats believe Russia interfered and that it helped Donald Trump.”

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 will be released initially by The Texas Tribune during the next four business days. Graphics, a summary, crosstabs and a data file will be publicly available for research and teaching at the Texas Politics Project website next week.

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