Lyceum Poll: Romney, Cruz Hold Safe Leads in Texas

Republican Mitt Romney has a commanding lead over Democrat Barack Obama in the presidential race in Texas, with 58 percent to the incumbent’s 39 percent, according to a new Texas Lyceum Poll.

The same survey has Republican Ted Cruz leading Democrat Paul Sadler 50 percent to 24 percent in the race for U.S. Senate from Texas. Those two are among the candidates vying to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison, who didn’t seek another term. About a quarter of the voters were undecided in that race.

The pollsters also asked Texans whether Gov. Rick Perry should seek another term in that office in 2014. Most — 54 percent — chose “wait and see,” while 30 percent were against another term and 18 percent said they were for it.

More than half of the respondents — 51 percent — said the country is on the wrong track, while 42 percent think the country is heading in the right direction.

Obama is doing a good job, according to 45 percent of the likely voters in the survey, while 55 percent think he’s doing a poor job. Perry is doing a good job according to 56 percent, a poor job according to 41 percent.

Other findings:

• The most important problems facing the country is the economy, unemployment and jobs, according to 41 percent of likely voters. Those issues topped the list for Texas among 33 percent of those voters; 19 percent put education at the top of their lists.

• The poll asked likely voters if they would be willing to pay higher taxes for various education proposals. One — higher pay for administrators — was acceptable to only 20 percent. But investment in physical education classes, school construction, art and music classes, higher pay for school staff and teachers, and investments in computers and other high-tech equipment each got a nod from more than half of the respondents. Teacher pay raises topped the list, with 74 percent saying they’d be willing to pay higher taxes for that.

• The poll found Texans split on the question of whether a college education is worth the money it costs, with 43 percent saying yes and 42 percent saying no. They’re split on tuition, too, with 46 percent saying the rates should be regulated, and 48 percent saying they should be left deregulated (30 percent of that last group think the costs should be offset for low-income students).

• Federal health care got unfavorable notices from 50 percent of likely voters, and favorable from 42 percent. Those numbers hide a strong partisan split: Only 9 percent of Republicans view the health care law favorably and only 8 percent of Democrats view it unfavorably. 

• Among likely voters, 22 percent said they were better off than a year ago, 30 percent said worse off and 48 percent said they were doing about as well now as then.

• Asked about the state’s economy, 72 percent of likely voters said Texas is better off than it was a year ago.

• The Texas Legislature is doing a good job, according to 62 percent of likely voters (Republicans were much more enthusiastic, at 79 percent, than Democrats, at 41 percent, or independents, at 58 percent).

• Asked how they feel about various institutions and people, more than half of the registered voters felt favorably about the Environmental Protection Agency, Romney, Perry, immigrants and Obama. Others were more positive than negative, but didn’t get high marks from half the population: banks, unions, Paul Ryan and Joe Biden. And some had more detractors than admirers: the Tea Party, Wall Street and the Occupy Movement.

• Asked about childhood obesity, 64 percent said kids today are much more likely to be fat and out of shape; 28 percent said they are somewhat more likely, and only 6 percent said they were somewhat or much less likely to be fat and out of shape. Why? Thirty one percent blame parents for not controlling their children’s diets; 24 percent blame TV, computers and other technologies; 17 percent blame fast food.

• Fifty two percent of Texas likely voters approve of the new state law requiring doctors to perform sonograms before abortions, and 45 percent oppose it. The split with men was 54 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed; with women, it was 50 percent to 47 percent.

• More than half of voters think water rights should be owned by the public and not by individuals, while 29 percent support individual ownership of water rights. Almost two-thirds said they would be willing to pay more in water tap fees to ensure the state’s water needs are met.

The survey of 1,175 Texas registered voters was conducted Sept. 10-26 by University of Texas Professor Daron Shaw and Rhodes College Professor Amy Jasperson. It has a margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. For ballot questions, the pollsters included “likely voters,” a group for which the margin of error is +/- 4.66 percentage points. 

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