A Political Poll, in Double-Time

The high points from the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll:

Ted Cruz has moved within runoff range of frontrunner David Dewhurst in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, with Dewhurst at 40 percent, Cruz at 31 percent and Tom Leppert at 17 percent.

• Most Texans don't recognize the names of the Democrats running for that Senate spot, but when pressed for a decision, Paul Sadler led with 29 percent, followed by Sean Hubbard at 25 percent, Addie Danielle Allen at 19 percent, and Grady Yarbrough at 15 percent.

• The Republican presidential vote in Texas belongs to Mitt Romney (Rick Santorum was far ahead, and still in the news, at the time of the February UT/TT survey), at 63 percent, with Ron Paul far behind at 14 percent. Santorum was at 10 percent.

• Romney's favorable/unfavorable ratings in Texas are 40 percent/38 percent. Barack Obama's are 38/52. Voters' job review of the president was 36 percent positive, 54 percent negative.

• Romney would beat Obama 55 percent to 35 percent in a general election in Texas held now.

• Congress won the approval of 10 percent of Texans, the disapproval of 71 percent.

• Gov. Rick Perry's job approval/disapproval was 37 percent/43 percent. Asked about their impression of Perry, 38 percent were sweet and 47 percent were sour. House Speaker Joe Straus got a 9/11 favorable/unfavorable vote. Dewhurst's grades were 30/25.

• Voters don't know most of the candidates running for Texas Railroad Commission. In the race for a full term on the RRC, Christi Craddick got 30 percent to Warren Chisum's 19 percent, followed by Joe Cotten, 14 percent; Becky Berger, 13 percent; and Roland Sledge, 10 percent. In the race for the remainder of Michael William's term, Greg Parker leads with 33 percent, followed by a virtual tie between Barry Smitherman and Elizabeth Murray-Kolb. Smitherman has the seat by appointment until someone wins the election. In the first race 63 percent of voters initially had no choice; in the second, the Don't Know vote was initially at 51 percent.

• Comptroller Susan Combs leads the hypothetical race for lieutenant governor in 2014, with 28 percent, followed by state Sen. Dan Patrick, with 23 percent; Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, with 11 percent; Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, with 9 percent; and state Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas, with 3 percent. One in five said they'd prefer "another Republican candidate."

• 54 percent said it's time for a change in their state representative; 35 percent say their lawmaker deserves another term.

• 18 percent of the voters said they would join the Tea Party if it organized like the other two parties. Another 22 percent said they would vote for Republican candidates, and 34 percent said they would choose Democratic candidates. Those Tea Party numbers are lower than in some previous UT/TT surveys. A year ago, 33 percent said they'd vote for the Democrat, 24 percent for the Tea Party candidate, and 17 percent for Republican.

• By a 47-36 margin, voters don't think candidates ought to sign anti-tax pledges before they get into office and see that they're facing. But it depends on who's answering the question: 70 percent of Democrats are against the pledges, Republicans were slightly in favor (48-41), and 60 percent of voters who identify with the Tea Party favor those pacts.

• There's a twin on the other side, where the fav/unfav numbers for Planned Parenthood are 46/35. The organization is much more favored by Democrats than by Republicans. And look at this: Among Republican men, 76 percent have an unfavorable opinion; among Republican women, 57 percent have an unfavorable opinion (13 percent of Republican men and 24 percent of Republican women had favorable opinions). More than half of female voters who identify themselves as independents — 56 percent — have a favorable opinion, while 11 percent were unfavorable. More than half of the male independents — 56 percent — had an unfavorable opinion; 24 percent had a favorable opinion.

• Right direction, wrong track numbers: For the country, 25-61; for the state, 38-42. The economy, compared to 12 months ago: For the country, 28 percent see improvement and 39 percent think it's worse; for their own family economics, the good-bad was 19-32.

• Texans think the most important problems facing the country are the economy, federal spending/debt, unemployment/jobs, and political leadership/corruption. Six problems at the state level got about the same number of votes: immigration, the economy, unemployment/jobs, border security, education, and political leadership/corruption.

• Should insurance companies be required to cover the costs of birth control for women? Almost half of Texans, 49 percent, said yes, while 43 percent oppose that idea. The cross-tabulations of those results show significant lines of disagreement. Women favor the idea; men don't. Liberals favor it; conservatives don't. Minorities favor it; Anglos don't.

• Texas voters' favorite branch of government is the judiciary, at 39 percent, followed by the executive, at 23 percent, and Congress, at 9 percent.

• Texans generally don't like the federal health care law: 45 percent said the U.S. Supreme Court should overturn the entire law, 10 percent would overturn only the individual mandates, and 26 percent said the court should leave the law intact.

• 39 percent said public education isn't as good as it was a year ago, and 51 think the state spends too little on schools. Only 9 percent said the schools are better than they were a year ago, and 39 percent said public education is neither better nor worse. On the spending question, 23 percent said Texas spends about the right amount on public schools, while 14 percent said it spends too much.

The UT/TT internet survey of 800 Texas voters was conducted May 7-13 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.46 percentage points. Questions asked only of Republican or Democratic voters have larger margins of error, as indicated. And "likely voters" were defined as those who indicated they were "somewhat" or "extremely" interested in politics and who voted in "every" or "almost every" election in recent years. Here are links to the full set of questions, the methodology, and the crosstabs.