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On the eve of the impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton, few Republican voters believe the Texas House was justified in impeaching him, according to a University of Texas Politics Project poll released Friday.
Just 28% of Republican respondents agreed that the charges were warranted, compared to 42% of independents and three-quarters of Democrats, the poll found. Among Republicans, one-third said impeachment was not justified while 39% said they were unsure or had no opinion.
Paxton’s approval dropped to 27% among all voters, the lowest in two years, the poll found. But among Republicans, it remained 46%.
The poll of 1,200 registered voters, conducted in mid-August, gives a glimpse of how the state’s powerful Republican electorate may wish the Senate to vote in Paxton’s impeachment trial, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Republicans hold a majority in the chamber with 19 members, making the group the most influential voting bloc. With all 12 Democrats likely to vote in favor of convicting Paxton, who is accused of abusing his office to help a friend and real estate investor in return for financial and personal favors, pro-Paxton groups have focused their efforts on pressuring Republican senators. A two-thirds vote is required to convict Paxton, meaning at least nine Republican senators would have to join the Democrats.
Paxton’s camp has argued that Republican senators risk their political careers by voting to convict the attorney general. But a majority of Republicans in the House, including all that represented Paxton’s home of Collin County, were willing to take that risk by voting in favor of impeachment in May.
Paxton and his lawyers have argued that he should remain in office because voters have been aware of the questions surrounding his ethics and have re-elected him twice, most recently in 2022.
The UT poll found that Paxton’s overall approval rating is far behind fellow Republicans Gov. Greg Abbott (45%) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (40%).
It is higher, however, than House Speaker Dade Phelan (20%), who appointed the committee that investigated Paxton in secret in the spring and then recommended his impeachment.
Forty-six percent of respondents said they disapprove of Paxton, a two-year high, while 31% of respondents said they disapprove of Phelan.
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