Skip to main content
University of Texas/Texas Tribune Polls

UT/TT Poll: Texas voters wary of those they perceive as outsiders

The state's most conservative voters are wary of American Muslims, Syrian refugees and undocumented immigrants, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Lead image for this article

Texans are split on whether to subject American Muslims to greater scrutiny than citizens who observe other religions, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Overall, 45 percent said “Muslims living in the U.S. should be subject to more scrutiny than people in other religious groups,” and 40 percent said they should not be subject to that.

Republican voters were strongly in favor of scrutinizing American Muslims: 69 percent said they would support that, while 20 percent were against it. Eighteen percent of Democrats support higher scrutiny of American Muslims; 66 percent oppose greater scrutiny. Independents, like Republicans, were more likely to favor greater scrutiny of Muslims: 59 percent, while 26 percent oppose it.

Half of the state’s voters don’t think the state should accept Syrian refugees who have passed through security clearances. Again, there is a partisan split in the numbers: 64 percent of Democrats would accept them, while 77 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of independents would not.

Their views mirror what they’ve heard from their national candidates.

“Trump has a majority on his side when he talks about border security,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “He insisted on talking about deportation, and he’s kind of muscled it through. It’s an indication of how powerful immigration is as an issue.”

Emily Albracht

Overall, voters would split on whether undocumented immigrants living in the United States should be immediately deported, with 47 percent saying they should be and 46 percent saying they should not be. Among Democrats, that split was 21 percent for deportation and 73 percent against; 70 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of independents favor immediate deportation.

The poll also revealed some racial and ethnic differences. White voters were in favor of deportation by a 55 percent to 40 percent margin; black voters split 33 percent to 59 percent; Hispanic voters split 35 percent to 58 percent.

Rural voters, at 61 percent, favor immediate deportation, while 47 percent of suburban voters and 36 percent of urban voters take that position.

“We’re seeing large Republican majorities favoring culturally nativist, 'America-first' positions. Is this because they’re following Donald Trump or because Donald Trump is following them?” said Jim Henson, head of the Texas Politics Project and co-director of the poll. “You can see that he is tapping into a strong feeling in the party.”

Texas is generally known as a free-trade state, but 44 percent of voters said international trade deals have been bad for the U.S. economy, while 27 percent said they have been good, 9 percent said they have had no impact and 19 percent didn’t register an opinion. Like many issues in this election season, the answers varied by party affiliation. Democrats were more amenable to trade deals, with 41 percent saying they’ve been good for the economy. Roughly three in five Republicans and independents said trade deals have been a minus for the economy.

Finally, a slim majority of Texans said the country would not be better off “if we just stayed home and did not concern ourselves with problems in other parts of the world.” Democrats were more likely to feel that way than Republicans, but the conservatives were split 44 percent in favor of staying out of foreign problems and 40 percent against staying out.

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 14 to Oct. 23 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Among likely voters — those who said either that they are certain to vote or that they have voted in “every” recent election — the margin of error is +/- 3.16 percentage points (n=959). Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

This is one of several stories on the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Previously: The race for president; what sort of voter fraud Texas voters fear in November’s election; what Texas voters think about various state and federal officeholders and institutions; the mood of the state; issues dear to some of the state’s top officials; and voter opinions of Black Lives Matter, police relations and discrimination.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here

Texans need truth. Help us report it.

Yes, I'll donate today

Explore related story topics

Demographics Immigration Politics