Early voting for the March 6 Republican and Democratic primaries kicks off Tuesday, and we have some numbers. The University of Texas and the Texas Tribune have released a poll on how candidates stand with voters in their own parties.
Daron Shaw, a government professor at the University of Texas, co-directed this poll. He says most incumbent Republicans have strong support from voters who identify as Republicans and have a history of voting in GOP primaries. Gov. Greg Abbott is tops in popularity, earning the approval of 95 percent of Republicans. Sen. Ted Cruz has 91 percent. The two statewide races where Republican incumbents have the lowest levels of support are further down the ballot. Incumbent Land Commissioner George P. Bush has 57 percent approval, and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has 54 percent. Each has drawn strong challengers.
Shaw says the poll found a high number of Republicans who said initially that they had not thought much about the races on the March primary ballot. After a “push” from the pollsters, more voters expressed an opinion, decreasing the number of undecideds in the poll, and getting Bush, for example, above 50 percent.
On the Democratic side of the ballot, Lupe Valdez has the support of 43 percent of voters, with Andrew White at 24 percent. Seven other candidates score in single digits.
“I was personally surprised that [Grady] Yarbrough wasn’t slightly higher,” Shaw says. Yarbrough is one of two Democratic candidates that received 7 percent support.
Shaw says Valdez is clearly the Democratic front-runner, but “she certainly hasn’t put this thing away.”
In the race for lieutenant governor, Shaw says candidates with similar names – and low name recognition – are in a tight race. Mike Collier has 55 percent support, and Michael Cooper has 45 percent.
“I’m utterly convinced that people don’t distinguish between the two names,” Shaw says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.