Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s economic report card is much stronger than President Donald Trump’s, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. The Republican governor also gets good marks from some of the Democrats who are dissatisfied with the president.
Overall, 56% of Texas voters approve of the job Abbott is doing and only 32% disapprove.
Asked about Abbott’s handling of the economy, 54% approve — including 86% of Republicans and 23% of Democrats. Only 25% disapprove, including 46% of Democrats and 4% of Republicans. That compares with only 49% of the state’s registered voters expressing approval of the president’s economic policies, a number that represents 89% of Republicans.
And a majority of Texas voters — 56% — approve of Abbott’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, while 29% disapprove. Most of the Democrats, 51%, disapprove. But just under a third of Democrats, along with 86% of Republicans, give the governor good marks.
“Democrats as a group aren’t suddenly swinging over to Abbott, but you look at his support among Democrats vs. Trump’s, and it’s clear that Abbott is peeling off some support from Democrats,” said James Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin. “He’s won some of them over.”
The pandemic topped the list of most important problems facing the state, at 32%. Only 12% of respondents say political corruption/leadership is most important, while another 10% put the economy at the top of their concerns.
“The approach he was criticized for by some on his right flank won him support not only from a lot of Republicans, but also among Democrats,” Henson said.
Most voters, 56%, say national efforts to deal with the pandemic are going “very” or “somewhat” well. They’re more positive about what’s going on in Texas: 66% say that’s going well.
The state gets better ratings on specifics of its response: providing people with clear information, preventing the spread of the virus, making sure health care workers have necessary equipment and working with local officials. More than half of the voters gave the state approving marks on all of those points, falling just short of a majority on the state’s efforts to reduce economic harm.
The federal government didn’t get marks like those; working with state and local officials was the only place where a majority of Texas voters said Washington, D.C., was doing a good job. But more than 40% said the federal government did either an excellent or good job on the other points.
“The vast majority of Texans do perceive the virus as a threat, but they’re still partisan human beings, many of them, with competing concerns, perceptions of threat, perceptions of their own safety and security,” Henson said.
“If you’re a political leader, this unambiguously shows you that you will find a vast majority of Texans supporting your action if they believe your action is necessary to halt the spread of the virus.”
Governments aren’t at the front of the line for praise for responses to the pandemic. Health care professionals have the approval of 83% of voters. Local governments get good grades from 64%, followed by state government (57%), the federal government (49%), the news media (34%) and insurance companies (27%).
Most of the state’s voters think their state government is a good model for other states to follow. But that 58% approval hides the partisan numbers below: 89% of Republicans agree that Texas is a good model, but 56% of Democrats, who hold none of the statewide offices and who are in the legislative minority, are on the other side.
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