In a poll released today and conducted June 13-14, 2016, Texas voters are specifically rejecting Donald Trump’s lies and the corruption of State GOP elected officials.
While Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 7 points (36.8 % – 29.7% ±3.1%) a deeper dive shows an overall unwillingness amongst Republican voters to pull the lever for a straight ticket. Republicans also make up the lions share of undecided.
998 responses were collected by live telephone calls from a random sample of Texas voters, balanced to the likely 2016 General Election turnout on June 13 and 14, 2016. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1%. The poll was conducted by Leland Beatty, an Austin-based market research consultant with extensive experience polling Texas voters.
Below are the most important findings from today’s poll:
In Texas, Clinton Poised to Top Obama 2008 Vote; Gaining on Trump
Hillary Clinton is on track to top President Obama’s 2008 44% finish in Texas. Obama’s performance in 2008 had a powerful down-ballot effect, pushing Democrats close to a majority in the Texas House of Representatives.
Trump will have significant difficulty adding to his 7 point lead (3.1% margin of error). Undecided voters were significantly concerned about their place in the economy and about the honesty and character of the candidates.
Undecided voters are also very fond of former President George W Bush. Bush, together with most of his family, has declared he will not support Trump.
Economy and Corruption of Elected Officials Top Texan’s concerns; Immigration Barely Registers
By a 3 to 1 margin, Texas voters believe state government corruption is a real problem.Two-thirds of Trump supporters believe that corruption in Texas state government is a real problem. Among the rest of Texas voters, 81% believe that state government corruption is a real problem, and 51% believe corruption is widespread throughout Texas government.
Because of continuing legal action and law enforcement investigations against incumbent Republican office holders, corruption concerns are certain to create a significant drag on the Republican ballot.
A quarter of undecided voters are most concerned about the economy, and the improving economy is likely to aid Clinton’s appeal to voters.
Only 7% of undecided voters (2% of the total vote) identified immigration as their primary issue. Trump and other Statewide Republicans are well outside of the mainstream on their immigration positions.
Trump Lies and Hush Money Scandals Bringing Down GOP Vote
Trump’s seemingly pathological problem with the truth is undercutting his potential among undecided voters. 1 out of 4 self-identified Republicans are, so far, refusing to support Trump. 80% of those feel favorably toward former President George W. Bush, and 40% expressed concern about the honesty of the candidates. If Democrats successfully connect Trump’s truth troubles with voter’s concerns about corrupt state elected officials, a Democratic resurgence is almost guaranteed.
The fact that many Republican elected officials have used taxpayer dollars to pay hush money to avoid personal lawsuits has the potential to cover the entire Republican ticket in perceived corruption.
Republican Straight Ticket Voters at Low Tide; Voters Suspicious of Statewide Leaders
Over half (52%) of self-identified Republicans say they may vote for candidates not on the Republican ballot. 27% of self-identified Republicans say they may not even vote Republican at the top of the ticket, because of their doubts about Trump.
Because so many self-identified Republicans have deep doubts about their own candidates, Republican straight ticket voting could fall in Texas to its lowest level since Republicans became the majority party—and that same doubt could bring a sooner than expected end to Republican dominance in Texas.
– This poll is of registered voters, not “likely” voters. That’s fine, and I’d argue wholly appropriate at this time, but it’s a distinction to keep in mind when comparing polls.
– For comparison purposes and to keep my presentation consistent, here’s a table of the topline result:
Candidate Pct ================ Trump 36.8% Clinton 29.7% Johnson 2.6% DK/Else 31.0%
I’ll get to the undecideds in a bit. It’s interesting to me that in a year where the Libertarian ticket is being touted as a viable Trump alternative, and some people are speculating that they could reach the 15% national polling average needed to be invited to the televised debates, Gary Johnson landed at 2.6% here. To be fair, that’s considerably higher than the 1.11% he got in 2012, which in turn was the first time a Libertarian candidate finished with more than one percent of the vote in Texas. All of which to say, fifteen percent is a long way away. There was a followup question for the Johnson supporters asking what motivated their selection. Of the 26 total people who named Johnson as their choice, 11 said theirs was a protest vote, 10 said they were inspired by Libertarian principles, and five said they were unsure or didn’t know. Make of that what you will.
– It’s always possible that most if not all of the 31% of respondents who said they were undecided will simply not vote, though I think that’s less likely in a higher turnout election like Presidential year elections. Be that as it may, I like to filter out the undecideds when there are a lot of them and then recalculate the totals. If you do that, you get the following:
Candidate Pct ================ Trump 53.3% Clinton 43.0% Johnson 3.8%
That puts Clinton within a hair of a single digit deficit, and puts her less than a point behind Obama’s 2008 performance, which was 43.7%. Not a bad start, all things considered.
– That said, most of the Undecideds are people who usually vote Republican and who rated George W. Bush the better President over Bill Clinton by a 2-1 margin. Trump therefore has more room to improve. In fact, if you assign the undecideds who preferred Bush’s presidency to Trump and those who preferred Bill Clinton’s to Hillary, you get
Candidate Pct ================ Trump 56.7% Clinton 40.5% Johnson 2.8%
Which looks a lot like the 2012 Romney/Obama numbers. Point being, it really matters how undecided those voters are.
– Speaking of 2012, the closest Obama was to Romney in any poll was a PPP poll from April that had him down 50-43. No other poll had him higher than 41, which is within a point of where he wound up, or closer than down 11. One poll as we know doesn’t tell us much. We’ll see what the trends look like, to see if breaking 45% and/or finishing within ten points is feasible.
– The crosstabs that we have do not include demographic information other than gender, which was oddly skewed towards women (60% of respondents were female). That means I can’t tell you how white/black/Latino voters went, nor can I tell you anything about how people voted by age range. That also means we can’t make guesses about how increases in turnout level, which would almost certainly make the electorate younger and less white, might affect the result.
– A third of self-identified Republicans thought corruption in state government was “widespread”, a third thought it was “a problem, but not widespread”, and the rest were split between “not a problem” and undecided. More than half of Democrats and more than half of voters who did not identify as either R or D thought corruption in state government was “widespread”, with only five percent of Dems and ten percent of neithers thinking it’s not a problem. File that away for 2018.
I think that about covers it for now. According to this Chron story, the poll was commissioned by “a group of Texas House Democrats”. Wish I had more information about it, but that’s what I’ve got. I can’t wait to see what the next result looks like.