The results of a new poll by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs shows just how deep political divisions are right now in Texas. And those divisions are especially apparent when it comes to beliefs about voter fraud and the COVID-19 vaccine.
Hobby School founding dean, and former state senator, Kirk Watson, told Texas Standard that sentiments about alleged voter fraud during the 2020 election (which have been widely debunked), and about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, fell strongly along party lines.
“What it tells me is, what we saw in a couple of answers to this broad polling question, is that there we’re a very, very divided state,” Watson said.
Watson says Texans were closely split when asked about whether they agreed there was widespread voter fraud last year. Forty-five percent of Texans said yes, while 55% said no.
But the differences were even greater when pollsters narrowed those answer by party affiliation.
“Democrats – 78% strongly disagreed that there was widespread voter fraud, but 66% of Republicans [strongly] believe there was,” he said.
As for the COVID-19 vaccine, pollsters asked respondents how likely they were to get the vaccine if it were free and available to them today. Fifty-six percent said they would, while over one-third of Texans said they weren’t likely to get it.
Watson says improving these divisions starts with elected officials. He says Texans need to hold them accountable, and expect them to be honest, straightforward and transparent. He says elected leaders have a duty to combat “false narratives” – whether they’re about voting or vaccines.
“Otherwise what happens is we just end up, and I even use this word loosely, ‘debating’ – we end up debating based upon false narratives or facts that aren’t, or they’re not really facts, because they’re not true, but people assumed them to be true,” Watson said.