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About half of Texas voters think Ken Paxton’s actions justify removing him as attorney general

 In this July 29, 2015, file photo, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks during a hearing in Austin.
Eric Gay
/
Associated Press
In this July 29, 2015, file photo, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks during a hearing in Austin.

As the Texas Senate prepares to convene a historic impeachment trial of suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, only about half of the state’s registered voters think the embattled politician made decisions that justify his ouster.

That number dips by nearly half however, to 24%, among Texas Republican voters.

That’s according to a new poll released Friday by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin that asked 1,200 Texas voters for their take on the embattled Republican.

Paxton, a staunch conservative who’s serving his third term in that position, was impeachedby the Texas House of Representatives in May after an investigation found he allegedly abused his office to benefit a friend and donor.

August 2023 University of Texas
/
Texas Politics Project Poll

The Texas Senate meets as a whole Tuesday to determine whether Paxton should be permanently removed.

Among all registered voters, 47% surveyed said they did think Paxton took actions as attorney general that warrant his removal, while only 18 % said they did not. About a third, 35%, said they didn’t know or had no opinion.

A partisan breakdown of the respondents shows that only 24% of Republicans said they think his actions justify his removal, while 32% said they didn’t, and 43% said they didn’t know or had no opinion. Among independent voters, 42% said yes, 14% said no and 44% said they didn’t know or had no opinion.

The balance was more tilted among Democrats; 71% said yes and only 8% said no, while just 21% said they didn’t know or had no opinion.

Jim Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project, said the poll shows that it's hard to gauge overall public opinion on Paxton’s impeachment as many voters remain undecided.

“Tellingly a big chunk — 35% — didn’t offer an opinion. So, while the public is not the direct jury on this, there is a lot of negative sentiment, but a big share of the jury is still out,” he told KERA.

The poll also showed Paxton’s approval rating lagging as he approaches the trial. Only 27% of voters approved of Paxton’s performance, while 46% disapproved. This is Paxton’s lowest approval rating since April 2021, according to the poll.

Paxton’s impeachment trial begins Tuesday. Two-thirds of the state senators would need to vote to impeach to have him removed. Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, will not vote, meaning 30 lawmakers will ultimately decide Paxton’s fate.

Copyright 2023 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

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