Over the last few days, The Texas Tribune and the University of Texas at Austin have released a series of polls covering everything from presidential politics to the controversy over a potential “bathroom bill.”
KUT’s Senior Editor Ben Philpott helps make sense of the results.
Despite public mistrust of polling data, especially following the 2016 presidential election, Philpott says the UT/Texas Tribune survey results are worth Texans’ attention.
The poll responses are tracked over time to observe changing attitudes on relevant issues like the legalization of marijuana. Additionally, Philpott says, the results are important because they are read by Texas lawmakers.
“Whether they are 100 percent accurate or not, these polls are being used by lawmakers to govern,” Philpott says. “We heard over and over from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as he was putting forward the bathroom bill in the senate that, ‘This is a bipartisan bill. This is something that polls over and over have said, that people don’t want men going into women’s bathrooms.’ Which, of course, isn’t exactly what the bill is.”
According to the latest UT/Texas Tribune poll results, most Texas voters overall don’t rate proposals to regulate transgender people’s use of public restrooms as an important issue.
The poll shows 54 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans consider the “bathroom bill” issue important, which rose from 44 percent in February. Among Tea Party Republicans, 70 percent consider the issue important, up only 39 percent from February’s poll.
Philpott says Patrick’s claims about the importance of the “bathroom bill” issue apply to his own Republican party and constituents.
“The state of Texas is [under] one-party control,” Philpott says. “When [Dan Patrick] is talking about Texans wanting something, in a lot of instances he’s talking about the people that are voting for him wanting something.”
Despite recent inquiries into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, Texan GOP voters’ support for the president remains strong.
The poll found 66 percent of Republicans say Trump is honest and trustworthy and 80 percent say he’s competent. Only 4 percent of Democrats said Trump is honest and trustworthy, and just 9 percent said he is competent, following a pattern of heavily divided partisan Texas opinions of the president.
“President Trump remains very supported here in Texas,” Philpott says. “On things like ‘Did Russia interfere?’– If you’re a Republican and you’re Trump supporter, [you’re] much less likely to think that anything like that happened.”
Written by Rachel Rascoe.