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UT/TT Poll: In Texas, Vast Majority Of Republicans Still Support Trump

Donald Trump remains highly popular with Texas Republicans nearly a year after his election as the 45th president, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

“Trump’s overall job approval numbers continue to look good with Republicans,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “His base is still very secure.”

His popularity with Texas Democrats, on the other hand, is remarkably low. While 79 percent of Republicans said they approve of the job the president is doing, 92 percent of Democrats disapprove. Among independent voters, 55 percent handed Trump good marks, while 35 gave him bad ones.

The president got better marks from men (52 percent favorable) than from women (39 percent); and from white voters (55 percent) than from black (14 percent) or Hispanic voters (34 percent).

Overall, Trump remains popular with Republicans in a state that hasn’t shown a preference for a Democratic presidential candidate in four decades. “There’s no slippage here in intensity,” said Josh Blank, manager of polling research at the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin. “There is some in the national numbers, but it’s not happening in Texas.”

Nearly two-thirds of Texas voters said the country is more divided since Trump became president; Democrats were more likely than Republicans to share that sentiment and less likely to say that the country is about as divided as it was when he took office. Not a single subgroup in the poll said the country is more united than it was at the beginning of Trump’s tenure.

The partisan splits in the Texas electorate were starkly evident in voter assessments of the president’s characteristics. More than a third of voters said Trump has the temperament to be president, but 56 percent said he does not. Crack open the numbers and the partisans crawl out: Only 5 percent of Democrats said Trump has the right temperament, compared to 62 percent of Republicans; 93 percent of Democrats said he doesn’t, while only 25 percent of Republicans agreed.

"The trait ratings suggest that Texans have mixed views on Trump with respect to leadership, competence and knowledge, but negative views with respect to trustworthiness and temperament," said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a government professor at UT-Austin. "The fact that Democrats don't see any positive traits in Trump is notable. Republicans didn't like Obama, but few thought him unintelligent. Democrats didn't like Bush, but many thought him a strong leader."


That 57-percentage-point partisan disagreement on temperament echoes through voter assessments of Trump’s honesty and trustworthiness (64 percentage points); competence (70 percentage points); empathy for voters (69 percentage points); strong leadership (75 percentage points); and knowledge (69 percentage points).

In each of those cases, Democratic voters’ antipathy kept the president’s overall numbers below 50 percent. “It’s unified Democratic opposition in anything Trump,” Blank said. “And the Republicans are not as positive as the Democrats are negative.

The president got his highest marks from voters on his handling of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath; overall, 56 percent said they approved of that performance, and even 20 percent of Democrats went along with that assessment.

The Democrats remained harsh in their assessments of Trump’s handling of other issues, however, while Republicans remained strongly supportive of their party’s standard-bearer. An example: Asked about Trump’s handling of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, 23 percent of voters approved and 47 percent disapproved. Among Democrats, the assessment was 4 percent to 91 percent; among Republicans, it was 59 percent approval and 14 percent disapproval.

Trump is doing just fine with the people who elected him and can’t catch a break from the other party’s voters.

“There is nowhere in these numbers where he is underwater with Republican voters,” Henson said. “Even in some of the areas where he has been criticized in the media, like North Korea, he’s doing fine with Republicans.”

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from October 6 to October 15 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

This is one of several stories on the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Also today: Texans rate the top figures and institutions in state politics.

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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