College of Liberal Arts

UT/TT Poll: Texans Remain Divided on Trump’s Job Performance but Approve of His Handling of Harvey

Thu, Oct 19, 2017
Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks
Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks

Nearly one year since the election of President Donald Trump, Texas voters remain divided on his job performance, but give him high marks for his handling of Hurricane Harvey, according the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.

The poll, conducted Oct. 6-15, found 45 percent of Texas voters approving of the job Trump is doing as president and 50 percent disapproving. 

Trump’s standing has changed little since the last poll conducted in June, and views of Trump remain strongly shaped by partisanship: 79 percent of Republican respondents approved of his job performance while 92 percent of Democrats disapproved.

“Trump’s Texas numbers show how polarizing he is,” said UT Austin government professor Daron Shaw, a co-director of the poll. “Democrats are very sour on the president, and while Republicans aren’t necessarily thrilled with him, they prefer him to any liberal Democratic alternative.”

The poll asked about the president’s handling of a wide range of issues that that have been in the news. Texans gave Trump the most positive reviews for his handling of hurricane damage in Texas, Louisiana and Florida: 56 percent approved and 29 percent disapproved. Responses on his handling of other issues varied widely and were less positive overall:

  • On Russian interference in the 2016 elections: 33 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved.
  • On North Korean threats toward the United States: 43 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved.
  • On political protests by athletes: 40 percent approved and 50 percent disapproved.
  • On the legal status of young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children (the so-called “Dreamers”), 38 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved.

“Views of the president’s performance on the issues we asked Texans about were strongly shaped by partisanship,” said director of the Texas Politics Project James Henson, a co-director of the poll. “Democrats are intensely negative about the way the president has handled most everything except Harvey, where they are merely very negative. Republicans are broadly positive in most areas, and especially supportive of his handling of border security and the aftermath of the hurricane, which leaves him in a very strong position among voters of the state’s majority party.”

The poll also asked voters to rate their approval of the U.S. Congress, Texas Legislature and Texas leaders. Some highlights:

  • Approval of the Texas Legislature also decreased between the June and October polls, from 33 percent in June to 28 percent in October.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s positive job approval ratings increased from 45 percent to 48 percent in the same period, with his negative ratings also increasing slightly from 29 percent to 33 percent.
  • The job approval ratings for both U.S. senators were largely unchanged since June. Thirty-eight percent gave Sen. Ted Cruz a positive job rating, while 43 percent rated him negatively. Sen. John Cornyn’s ratings were 28 percent approve/41 percent disapprove.
  • Views on the U.S. Congress were also slightly down from June, but within the poll’s margin of error, with approval at 12 percent and disapproval at 69 percent.

“As the 2018 election season takes shape, statewide officials in Texas remain about where they were when summer began,” Henson said. “Looking at both statewide officials and the Texas Legislature, the special session of the Texas Legislature doesn’t seem to have helped much of anyone in state politics.”

The internet-based statewide poll was conducted Oct. 6-10 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.

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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