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UT/TT Poll: In Texas, Sharp Division on Black Lives Matter Movement

Emily Albracht/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Likely Republican voters in Texas have overwhelmingly negative opinions of the Black Lives Matter movement, while a majority of Democratic voters views the movement favorably, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

It’s a sharp division: 89 percent of Republicans have unfavorable views of Black Lives Matter, including 80 percent who said their opinion is “very unfavorable.”

On the other side of the political ledger, 60 percent of Democrats have favorable views of the movement, including 25 percent who have “very favorable” views.

Independents were more like the Republicans, with 72 percent holding unfavorable views and only 15 percent holding favorable views. Democrats were more likely to be on the fence: 24 percent either had neutral or no opinions.

“I think it’s racialized, but there is also a sense somehow that with that movement, the focal point is not improving policing, but trying to demonize police,” said Daron Shaw, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll.

"When you look at some of the rhetoric that has come out of the leadership, in particular [Lt. Gov.] Dan Patrick’s trenchant criticism of Black Lives Matter in the shootings in Dallas, there was an audience for what he was saying," said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin.

Henson said the overall numbers hide differences between subgroups in the poll, “in particular because the Republican numbers are so one-sided and because of some ambivalence among Democrats.”

The differences were slightly less stark when voters were asked whether it would be more helpful to fund programs teaching Texans how to interact with police or to fund programs teaching police how to interact with Texans. Overall, a third of Texas voters chose the community education, while 45 percent said it would be better to train the officers.

Among Republicans, 50 percent preferred community training, 23 percent chose police training and 27 percent registered no opinion. Among Democrats, 15 percent preferred community training, 70 percent preferred police training and 14 percent had no preference. Independents split: 35 percent community, 42 percent police and 23 percent undecided.

“This is a policy debate in the making — I’m not surprised that we see so many undecided voters,” Henson said. 

Credit Emily Albracht/Texas Tribune

Texans believe there is significant discrimination against minorities and, to a lesser extent, against women. However, their perceptions of discrimination vary considerably by political identity.

Four of five Democrats said there is either “a great deal” or “a lot” of discrimination against minorities — a view held by only 14 percent of Republicans. More than half of Republicans — 54 percent — said there is “a little” or “none at all” when asked about the amount of discrimination against minorities. That view was shared by 6 percent of Democrats. Independents were somewhere in between: 38 percent said there is significant discrimination, while 37 percent said there is little or none.

Overall, 40 percent of Texas voters said there is only a little or no discrimination against women. Republican voters were more likely to say it’s not a problem: 68 percent said there is little or no discrimination. Among Democrats, 62 percent said there is significant discrimination against women; only 10 percent agreed with the majority of Republicans.

“When it comes to discrimination against women, you have to say Republicans are from Mars and Democrats are from Venus,” Henson said.

Independents were again in the middle: 34 percent see significant discrimination against women in Texas, and 47 percent don’t perceive much of it.

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 14 to Oct. 23 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Among likely voters — those who said either that they are certain to vote or that they have voted in “every” recent election — the margin of error is +/- 3.16 percentage points (n=959). Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

Ross Ramsey is managing editor of The Texas Tribune and continues as editor of Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter on government and politics in the Lone Star State, a role he's had since September 1998. Texas Weekly was a print-only journal when he took the reins in 1998; he switched it to a subscription-based, internet-only journal by the end of 2004 without a significant loss in subscribers. As Texas Weekly's primary writer for 11 years, he turned out roughly 2 million words in more than 500 editions, added an online library of resources and documents and items of interest to insiders, and a daily news clipping service that links to stories from papers across Texas. Before joining Texas Weekly in September 1998, Ramsey was associate deputy comptroller for policy with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, also working as the agency's director of communications. Prior to that 28-month stint in government, Ramsey spent 17 years in journalism, reporting for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as the paper's Austin bureau chief. Prior to that, as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, he wrote for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ramsey got his start in journalism in broadcasting, working for almost seven years covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.
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