NEW POLL: Voters divided on Cruz, O’Rourke for U.S. Senate seat


Slight majority of Texans disapprove of the job President Donald Trump is doing.

Gov. Greg Abbott notches approval.

Texans remain polarized on Trump.

In a U.S. Senate seat matchup between GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, most Texans haven’t decided how to vote, according to a political poll released Wednesday.

The poll also said a majority of Texas adults approve of the job Gov. Greg Abbott is doing; and that Texans are polarized about how they feel about President Donald Trump, with a slight majority disapproving of the job he’s doing.

The annual poll conducted by theTexas Lyceum, a nonprofit association for young Texas leaders, surveyed 1,000 adults, not just registered or likely voters. Because Texas Republicans have higher voter participation rates than the population as a whole, the annual Lyceum polltends to portray a less conservative statethan most political polls do. The poll’s overall margin of error is 3.1 percentage points.

The poll was conducted April 3 through April 9 by University of Texas government professor Daron Shaw and Joshua Blank, manager of polling and research at theTexas Politics Project.

Fifty-four percent of Texans polled disapprove of the job Trump is doing while 42 percent approve. Those views are polarized by party and race, with 85 percent of Republicans giving the president positive marks compared with the 86 percent of Democrats who disapprove of his job performance; Hispanics and young people view his performance negatively, and white people view it generally positively.

The poll also found that Abbott gets a 53 percent approval rating, including approval from 82 percent of Republicans.

A plurality of Texas adults — 38 percent — also approve of the job that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is doing, with 31 percent disapproving. But nearly a third of those polled were unable to offer an assessment, suggesting Patrick remains little known to many Texans.

The pollsters also asked nearly 900 registered voters about their views on matchups for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Cruz.

In a face-off with O’Rourke, who has officially entered the contest, Cruz and O’Rourke each garner 30 percent, with a plurality of Texas voters — 37 percent — saying that they haven’t thought about the race yet.

“While this early result may feel like good news for Texas Democrats,” the pollsters write, “among those who say that they haven’t thought about the race yet, only 19 percent identify themselves as liberal, compared to 33 percent who identify as conservative, and 36 percent who identify as moderate.”

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who also is considering a Senate bid, fares slightly better against Cruz, with 35 percent of Texas registered voters polled saying they would support him compared with 31 percent who say that they would support Cruz.

The results “seem reasonable to me in this very early stage in the campaign,” said Cal Jillson, a professor of American politics at Southern Methodist University. The breakdown between Cruz and O’Rourke voters “suggests that, as with the Trump numbers, Republicans are sticking with their candidate and Democrats with their candidate.”

Since Trump is “underwater” in the poll results — if not pinging as high in terms of disapproval as in other parts of the country — that suggests “independents are negative on Trump in these parts,” Jillson said.

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