Texas Republicans have been taking a victory lap, celebrating passage of a new voting law in the Legislature, but a new poll from the Texas Politics Project at UT -Austin and the Texas Tribune indicates Gov. Greg Abbott is also facing his highest disapproval rating ever.
Jim Henson is the director of the Texas Politics Project. He told Texas Standard that the percentage of Texans who approve of the job Abbott is doing as governor stands at 41%, which is “as low as we’ve seen it during the course of his governorship,” Henson said. 50% of poll respondents disapprove of Abbott’s performance.
“More troubling overall is that the right track/wrong track number in Texas has gone very much in the wrong direction,” Henson said.
In the poll, 52% of respondents said the state is on the wrong track. That’s the highest since 2009, Henson said.
In addition to recent legislative action, Henson says Texans are responding to the governor’s handling of the pandemic, including the rise in COVID cases caused by the delta variant and two contentious special legislative sessions.
“Clearly for anyone following politics, it’s been an ugly summer in Texas,” Henson said.
Job approval for the Legislature fell during the summer, along with Abbott’s. Henson says the poll also found increases in partisan polarization.
“Republicans by and large were in favor of what the Legislature was at least trying to do,” he said. “Democrats [were] deeply opposed.”
Abbott faces two Republican opponents in next year’s reelection contest. Each has positioned himself to the governor’s right. No major Democratic candidate has joined the race as yet.
“I think the governor’s strategy has been pretty clear here,” Henson said. “He is mindful of those two primary opponents… And he’s determined not to let them get any traction there.”
The Supreme Court’s decision last week to allow a restrictive new Texas abortion law to take effect had limited impact on the UT/TT poll, Henson said, because much of the survey was conducted before the ruling. But Henson points out that the law was passed earlier this year, and signed by Abbott in June.