With the usual disclaimers about partisan imbalance, President Donald Trump’s job approval ratings are holding steady, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
Overall, equal numbers of Texas voters approve and disapprove of the job Trump is doing. Beneath that, the poll found, Republicans are highly supportive, with 83 percent saying they approve, while 84 percent of Democrats say they disapprove. The president’s numbers are remarkably similar to those in last February’s UT/TT Poll — the first survey after Trump took office. Then, as now, Republicans were solidly behind him and Democrats were solidly against him, making the blended numbers appear balanced.
“My general take on politics right now is that the only party more dysfunctional than the Republicans is the Democrats — or vice-versa,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin. But he said the numbers seem to reflect Republican satisfaction over passage of a major tax bill and loyalty to the president after a year in office.
Congress got better grades from the poll’s respondents in this year’s first poll than in the previous UT/TT Poll in October. Better, in this case, is a relative thing: 19 percent of Texas voters said they approve of the job Congress is doing, while 61 percent disapprove. In October, 12 percent approved and 69 percent disapproved. Among Republicans, who have the congressional majority, 33 percent approve of Congress’ work, an improvement from 16 percent in October — before a tax bill popular with conservatives was passed. Democrats’ grading remained flat: 7 percent approve and 75 percent disapprove of federal legislators’ work; in October, 8 percent approved and 76 percent disapproved.
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The contrasting voter impressions of the state’s two Republican U.S. senators continue. John Cornyn had approving marks from 29 percent of all voters, 47 percent of Republicans and 10 percent of Democrats. Overall, 38 percent of voters disapprove of the job Cornyn's doing as the second-highest-ranking member of the Senate majority’s leadership. That’s driven by the disapproval of 59 percent of Texas Democrats.
Ted Cruz, who is up for re-election this year, gets about the same number of good grades — 40 percent — and bad ones — 41 percent. As with other officeholders, it’s about party, but only Trump’s numbers are as strongly divided on those lines. Cruz’s high grades from 72 percent of Republicans are offset by his bad grades from 73 percent of Democrats.
In another question, voters were asked their opinion of Cruz, which yielded similar results. Overall, 40 percent said they have a favorable impression of him and 42 percent have an unfavorable one. It’s a party thing, with 71 percent of Democrats holding negative opinions and 70 percent of Republicans holding positive ones. Fewer than one in five said they had no opinion at all.
Contrast that with his likely general election opponent, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke. The El Paso Democrat has never been on a statewide ballot, and it shows, with 58 percent of all voters saying they have neither a favorable nor an unfavorable opinion of him. Among Democrats, 52 percent have a favorable opinion of O’Rourke, 4 percent have an unfavorable opinion and 44 percent have no opinion at all. Among Republicans, 8 percent were favorable, 22 percent were unfavorable and 70 percent were neither positive nor negative.
Gov. Greg Abbott remains the most popular elected state official, if job assessments are the measure. Overall, 46 percent said he’s doing a good job and 31 percent said he’s not. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s numbers almost break into three equal parts: 36 percent approval, 33 percent disapproval and 31 percent neutral. And House Speaker Joe Straus, who is not seeking another term, remains the least well-known high official in Austin: 27 percent approve of the job he’s doing, 24 percent disapprove and 48 percent remain neutral.
The Straus results have a less-partisan twang: Among Republicans, 33 percent approve and 22 percent disapprove of his work; among Democrats, 25 percent approve and 28 percent disapprove. The partisans go in separate directions when it comes to the governor and the lieutenant governor. While 81 percent of Republicans give Abbott good marks, only 12 percent of Democrats do so; Patrick got high marks from 67 percent of Republicans and only 8 percent of Democrats.
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The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Feb. 1 to Feb. 12 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.
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