News Release 

New Texas poll: Trump up in close race

In US Senate contest, Cornyn leads Hegar with likely voters

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Research News

President Donald Trump has an apparent lead over former Vice President Joe Biden in a close contest for Texas' 38 electoral votes according to a new poll of likely voters in the state released today.

Trump has the support of 49 percent of Texas likely voters, Biden is at 46 percent, other candidates on the ballot are at 4 percent and 1 percent are undecided. The poll of 882 likely voters carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.

While male poll respondents are more likely to vote for Trump (52 percent Trump, 42 percent Biden), Trump is polling nearly even with Biden among women in Texas (49 percent Biden, 47 percent Trump); Biden likely needs to widen the gender gap in order to carry the state. More on voters' support by party, age and education is available at http://www.uml.edu/polls.

While Trump is slightly ahead of Biden with likely voters, 50 percent say they approve and 49 percent disapprove of the president. Among those who approve, 37 percent do so strongly and 13 percent somewhat. Among Trump disapprovers, 40 percent strongly disapprove of the way he is handling his job as president. Among Democrats, 95 percent disapprove of Trump's job performance, including 83 percent who strongly disapprove. Among independents, 60 percent disapprove of his job performance, including 39 percent who strongly disapprove. Among the 92 percent of Republicans who approve of Trump's job performance, 69 percent strongly approve.

"Trump is hanging onto a lead in Texas, but Republicans shouldn't be celebrating. Once a stronghold, statewide races continue to tighten and a loss in Texas would not only guarantee a Biden presidency, it would signal a landslide. The fact that Biden is keeping it close is cold comfort," said Joshua Dyck, director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and associate professor of political science.

Asked about their opinions on whether either candidate and their allies are trying to cheat to win the election, slightly less than half of Texas likely voters say that Biden and his allies have been cheating "a great deal" (32 percent) or "somewhat" (16 percent), while half say that Trump and his allies have been cheating "a great deal" (36 percent) or "somewhat" (14 percent). As expected, these numbers break down by party identification, but the perception of partisan cheating by Trump among Democrats is higher: 72 percent of Democrats think Trump and his allies are cheating "a great deal," and 57 percent of Republicans think Biden and his allies are cheating "a great deal."

In the closely watched U.S. Senate race in Texas, Republican incumbent John Cornyn leads Democratic challenger MJ Hegar 50 percent to 40 percent with 1 percent saying they will vote for another candidate and 9 percent undecided.

While Cornyn leads by a comfortable margin, his lead also does not necessarily project strength, rather that he is running against a relatively unknown challenger. Cornyn is leading among Republicans 91 percent to Hegar's 3 percent, while Hegar leads among Democrats 83 percent to 7 percent. However, Hegar also leads among independents by 9 points, 44 percent to 35 percent. Notably, 10 percent of Democrats and 11 percent of independents remain undecided, compared to only 6 percent of Republicans.

As a challenger, Hegar's relative anonymity among Texas voters shows up in her favorables. She has a net favorability rating of +13 (35 percent to 22 percent), but a large number of Texas voters either have no opinion of her (26 percent) or have never heard of her (17 percent). Cornyn, by contrast, is not a particularly popular incumbent. His favorability rating is net neutral (38 percent favorable, 38 percent unfavorable), while 19 percent of likely voters have no opinion of the senator and 5 percent have never heard of him.

Poll respondents were also asked whether the next Supreme Court justice - the replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg - should be appointed by the current president or by the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Here, we see a majority, 54 percent, of Texas likely voters say that the winner of the presidential election should appoint Ginsburg's successor to the high court, while 46 percent say that the sitting president should appoint her successor.

The poll also found the following among likely Texas voters:

  • Gov. Greg Abbott has an approval rating of 55 percent (28 percent strongly approve, 27 percent somewhat approve).
  • Texas voters are split on whether it is safe to re-open local public schools. A slim majority (51 percent) of Texas likely voters think it's not safe to re-open local public schools for face-to-face instruction (26 percent say definitely not safe, 25 percent say probably not safe, 28 percent say probably safe, 21 percent say definitely safe).
  • Asked who they think will win the 2020 presidential election, Texas likely voters give Trump the edge: 49 percent say Trump will win and 37 percent say Biden will win.
  • Sixty-three percent of likely voters say the country has gotten off on the wrong track while 37 percent think things in the country are headed in the right direction.
  • Texas provides absentee ballots only to those voters who are unable to vote in person (i.e. they must provide a valid excuse). All other voters are expected to vote in person, but Texas does offer early voting between Oct. 13 and Oct. 30. Among likely voters, 15 percent say they plan to vote by mail, 64 percent say they plan to vote early, in person, while 22 percent plan to vote in person on Election Day. Among those who intend to vote by mail, Biden leads 69 percent to 25 percent, among intended early voters Trump leads 50 percent to 46 percent and among Election Day voters Trump leads 66 percent to 29 percent.

Detailed poll results - including topline and methodology - are available at http://www.uml.edu/polls. The nonpartisan poll is independently funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell's Center for Public Opinion, which conducts public-opinion polling at the state and national levels. The nationally recognized center uses the latest technology and highest standards in its surveys and is a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research's Transparency Initiative. The center's events and polls on political and social issues provide unique opportunities for civic engagement, experiential learning and research.

The poll of 882 likely Texas voters was independently funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, which has more than 1,000 students and alumni who hail from the Lone Star State. The survey was designed and analyzed by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and fielded by YouGov from Sept. 18 through Sept. 25. It has an adjusted margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent. Full poll methodology is available at http://www.uml.edu/polls.

In addition to the survey of likely voters in Texas, the Center for Public Opinion also released polls in two other states today. The findings include:

  • In New Hampshire, former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by eight points, 52 percent to 44 percent. In the races for U.S. senator and governor, both incumbents lead by double digits. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen leads Republican challenger Corky Messner 56 percent to 37 percent. Gov. Chris Sununu leads Democratic challenger Dan Feltes 60 percent to 34 percent. (Poll of 657 likely New Hampshire voters conducted Sept. 17 through Sept. 25 with an adjusted margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percent.)
  • In North Carolina, Trump and Biden are tied with 47 percent support of likely voters. In the race for U.S. Senate, Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham leads Republican incumbent Thom Tillis 49 percent to 43 percent. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper leads Republican challenger Dan Forest 54 percent to 41 percent. (Poll of 921 likely North Carolina voters conducted Sept. 18 through Sept. 25 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent.)

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