Most Texans say they’ve heard “a lot” about the federal investigations into Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016, but they differ greatly — along party lines — about the investigations' purpose and results to date, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
Only 5 percent of registered voters in the state say they’ve heard nothing about the Russian election investigations. The rest of us have apparently heard plenty: 58 percent said they’ve heard “a lot,” 27 percent said they’ve heard “some” and 10 percent said they’ve heard “not very much,” the survey found.
The political stakes of those investigations have colored the opinions of Texas voters. Among Republicans, 81 percent believe “They’re mostly efforts to discredit Donald Trump’s presidency.” On the other side, 77 percent of Democrats said the investigations are “mostly efforts to investigate potential foreign interference in a U.S. election.”
Similarly, 37 percent of voters approve of the way Special Counsel Robert Mueller is handling those investigations, while 38 percent disapprove. That apparent balance hides a partisan split: While 67 percent of Democrats approve of what he’s doing, 67 percent of Republicans disapprove.
Mueller’s team has obtained 17 indictments and five convictions as a result of their investigations. In spite of their attention to the matter, voters are split on that, too. Asked whether the investigations have uncovered any crimes, 78 percent of Repubilcan registered voters said no and 22 percent said yes. Among Democrats, those responses were flipped: 27 percent of Democrats said no crimes have been uncovered and 73 percent said Mueller has found criminal evidence.
“It started off painting investigators and investigation as biased, painting everyone involved as having partisan motives, but now it’s a focus solely on the Mueller investigation, and the idea — at least among Republicans — that it hasn’t uncovered anything,” said Josh Blank, manager of polling and research at the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Politics Project.
“It’s just a brilliant job on Trump’s part, calling it ‘witch hunt, witch hunt, witch hunt,’” said Daron Shaw, a government professor at UT-Austin and co-director of the poll.
The FBI still gets mixed reviews from Texas voters, and the partisan divide has widened some in the last year. Overall, 41 percent have favorable opinions of that agency and 29 percent view it unfavorably. Democrats are more likely to have a good impression: 62 percent were positive and 11 percent were negative. Among Republicans, the agency gets good marks from 27 percent and negative marks from 45 percent. A year ago, the UT/TT Poll found 51 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of Republicans had favorable opinions of the agency.
“I’m through the looking glass when Republicans think cozying up to the Russians is a good idea and Democrats are saying ‘How are you dealing with those communists?’ — and also, when the Democrats think the FBI is a good thing and the Republicans don’t,” Shaw said.
The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from June 8 to June 17 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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