'Somebody else' would beat Donald Trump in Texas — but just barely: poll

'Somebody else' would beat Donald Trump in Texas — but just barely: poll
Election '20

A slight majority of Texas voters would choose someone other than Donald Trump in a presidential race held right now, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

While 45 percent said they would “definitely vote for someone else,” 39 percent said they would “definitely vote to re-elect Donald Trump.” But the president got 10 percent who said they would “probably vote to re-elect Donald Trump,” and only 6 percent said they would “probably vote for someone else.”

If you count the leaners on both sides, that would be a virtual tie between Trump and an unnamed opponent.

“President ‘Else’ is doing pretty well,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “The definitely-vote-for-somebody-else is pretty solid, I think.”

The president is strong with Republicans (88 percent would re-elect) and weak with Democrats (93 percent want someone else). He’s got some work to do with independent voters. Only 24 percent would definitely vote for him, while 42 percent say they would definitely vote against him.

The two Texas Democrats running (Julián Castro) or considering (Beto O’Rourke) a run for the Democratic presidential nomination have different profiles with voters — possibly because only O’Rourke has run a statewide campaign in Texas.

Only 12 percent of Texas voters have a neutral or no opinion of O’Rourke, while 43 percent said they have a favorable opinion of the El Paso Democrat and 45 percent have an unfavorable impression. Four months after his narrow loss to Ted Cruz in the 2018 U.S. Senate race, 85 percent of Texas Democrats have favorable impressions of him, and 81 percent of Republicans have negative opinion.

Castro is less well-known, though he was a member of the Obama administration’s Cabinet and is a former San Antonio mayor: 42 percent of Texas voters have either a neutral or no opinion of him, while 26 percent have a favorable impression and 32 percent have a negative impression. A slim majority of Democrats — 51 percent — have favorable impressions, compared with 7 percent of Republicans. Six percent of Democrats have negative views of the candidate, while 56 percent of Republicans do.

“Congratulations. You’ve been in the Cabinet, you’ve been the mayor of San Antonio, and you’re where Beto O’Rourke was a year ago in your home state,” said Jim Henson, who co-directs the poll and heads the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin. “It does not make a lot of sense to me to think of Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro as peers in their home state. In terms of public opinion, they’re not even close.”

“If O'Rourke is going to run for president and we’re going to talk about who’s going to own Texas, this is a pretty good indicator,” Henson said.

Neither of the state’s two major political parties has a great reputation with all voters, 50 percent of whom register negative impressions of Democrats and 51 percent who say they have unfavorable views of Republicans. What might be more interesting is what they think of themselves. Among Democratic voters, 79 percent have a positive impression of their own party, while 9 percent have a negative one and 12 percent have none at all. Among Republican voters, the GOP gets favorable marks from 64 percent, unfavorable marks from 21 percent and no marks at all from 15 percent.

Among independent voters, 17 percent have favorable impressions of the Republican Party and 14 percent have favorable views of the Democratic Party.

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