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Latest statewide poll shows majority of Texans think state is headed in the wrong direction

The Texas Capitol building.
Christopher Connelly

A majority of Texans think the state is headed in the wrong direction and an even larger number believe elected officials are not doing enough to prevent mass shootings, according to the results of a statewide poll released Monday.

The findings also showed that Texans are mixed when asked about the overall job Texas’ top Republicans are doing running the state

The poll, conducted by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler, surveyed about 1,270 registered voters across Texas from Sept. 6 through 13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, the Dallas Morning News reported.

When asked if things in Texas are headed in the right direction or the wrong track, 54% of respondents said the wrong track compared to 44% that said the opposite. The remaining 2% chose “neither.”

The partisan breakdown showed nearly two-thirds of Democrats, or 62%, think the state is headed in the wrong direction, while 37% said the right direction. Republicans were more optimistic, with 57% saying things in Texas are headed in the right direction compared to 42% who said the opposite. Thirty three percent of voters who identified as independent said the state is headed in the right direction while 64% thought it was on the wrong track.

On gun safety, nearly two-thirds of the respondents, or 63%, said they are concerned about gun violence. Some 32% said they were very concerned, and 31% responded that they were somewhat concerned. That’s compared to 21% who said they were not very concerned and 13% who said they were not concerned at all. On that issue, 82% of Democrats said they were concerned, compared to 51% and 58% of Republicans and independent voters, respectively.

Gun safety has been a hot-button issue for several years following several mass shootings that have taken place in Texas, including the most recent killings of 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in Uvalde in May. That followed the 2017 shootings at a church in Sutherland Springs that claimed the lives of 26 people; the shooting at Santa Fe High School that killed 10; the 2019 El Paso Walmart shooting where 23 lives were lost and the Midland-Odessa shooting just weeks later where seven people were killed.

Most respondents gave Texas lawmakers low marks when asked if elected officials were doing enough to prevent more mass shootings with only 29% agreeing and 60% disagreeing. The partisan breakdown showed nearly 75% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans disagreeing, while 4% and 12%, respectively, chose “neither.”

Approval of GOP leadership

The poll also showed that 50% of those surveyed approve of the job Gov. Greg Abbott is doing in office. Abbott, a former Texas attorney general, is seeking his third term against Democrat Beto O’Rourke, a former El Paso congressman and city council member. Abbott’s approval is compared with 47% who said they did not approve of his performance, while 3% neither approved nor disapproved.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s approval among the respondents was evenly split with 40% approving and 40% disapproving, according to the survey. About 19% of the voters chose “neither” when asked if they approved or disapproved of Patrick’s performance.

Abbott’s approval rating hasn’t translated into a closer contest for O’Rourke, however. According to the poll, Abbott’s lead has increased to 9 percentage points, a 2-point improvement since last month, the Dallas Morning News reported. Abbott leads O’Rourke 47% to 38% with 12% of respondents opting for another candidate and 2% who said they didn’t know.

The Dallas Morning News attributed the bump, in part, to a blitz of negative television and online ads the Abbott camp has unveiled within the last few weeks on border policy and O’Rourke’s fundraising.

Patrick also has a comfortable lead over his Democratic challenger Mike Collier with a 39% to 28% advantage, according to the results. Collier is an accountant who is trying again to unseat the incumbent after falling short four years ago. Twenty percent of voters said they are undecided in that race with 13% indicating they prefer another candidate.

Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar.

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