Texas primary election voters have a lot to ponder in 2022. In addition to high profile races for governor and other statewide positions, there are candidates for the state House and Senate, Congress and numerous county positions to consider. Adding to the mix are new district lines for all levels of government and new election laws while the one-year anniversary of Winter Storm Uri’s devastation approaches. Who are the statewide frontrunners in the Republican and Democratic primaries? Will there be a need for runoff races in May? What policy issues are at the top of the list when making decisions about candidates? What do Texans think about the response by the Texas state government to the Winter Storm of 2021? Do any proposed voting rights reforms garner support? To answer these questions and more, the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston conducted an online survey of Texas registered voters to identify their preferences and opinions regarding 2022 primary candidates, policy issues, Texas’ winter storm preparedness and potential election reforms. The survey was fielded between January 14 and 24, 2022 in English and Spanish, with 1,400 YouGov respondents who are registered to vote in Texas, resulting in a confidence interval of +/-2.2%. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race/ethnicity, presidential vote history, and education and are representative of the population of Texas registered voters.
The results of the survey will be presented in a series of reports. The first report examines the vote intention of Texans for the 2022 Republican and Democratic primaries and for the 2022 general election for governor. The second report examines the opinions of Texans regarding the response by the Texas state government over the past year to the Winter Storm of 2021, their opinions about how well prepared we are to confront a new storm, how soon they expect a similar polar vortex to hit Texas, who they will blame if we experience a repeat of the February 2021 cold weather-induced power outage, and support for the expansion and reduction of the country’s reliance on different energy sources. The third report in this series examines the opinions of Texans about the following: the current direction of the United States and of Texas; the most important issue for them in deciding how to vote in the 2022 gubernatorial election; abortion policy; candidate favorability; and the 2021 storming of the Capitol. The final report in this series examines support for and opposition to 18 different voting and election related reforms contained in the federal Freedom to Vote Act. There exists a strong consensus among Texans in support of numerous reforms, with majority support by both Democrats and Republicans in many cases.
Report One. Texas 2022 Elections & Issues: Vote Intention
The first report examines the vote intention of Texas registered voters who indicated that they plan to vote in the 2022 Texas Republican or Democratic primary election. Fielded in mid-January, this snapshot provides statewide candidate preferences approximately four weeks before in-person early voting begins on February 14 and approximately six weeks before election day on March 1. The findings also include how the gubernatorial frontrunners may fare in the November general election.
- In the race for governor, Greg Abbott garnered 58% of support among all Republican primary voters, followed by Allen West with 11%, Don Huffines with 7% and the remaining candidates between 0-3%. Almost one in five (17%) remained undecided.
- A majority (52%) of all Republican primary voters supported Dan Patrick in the race for lieutenant governor.
- In the race for Texas attorney general, almost two-fifths (39%) of all Republican primary voters indicated they intend to vote for general Ken Paxton, followed by George P. Bush (16%), Louie Gohmert (13%) and Eva Guzman (8%), with one in four (24%) undecided.
- Among all Republican primary voters, Sid Miller led the race for Agriculture Commissioner with 34%, almost five times that of James White (7%) and more than eight times that of Carey Counsil (4%). More than one-half (55%) of all primary voters remained undecided.
- For the Democratic nominee for governor, Beto O’Rourke’s vote intention was 73% among all primary voters, with all of the other candidates’ vote intention ranging from 1% to 4%. 16% remained undecided.
- Almost six in ten (59%) of all Democratic primary voters remained undecided about their party’s nominee for lieutenant governor.
- Among all Democratic primary voters, only two candidates for attorney general enjoy support in the double digits: Rochelle Mercedes Garza (13%) and Joe Jaworski (10%).
- Regarding the November general election for governor, Greg Abbott’s vote intention was 48% while O’Rourke’s was 43%. Libertarian Mark Jay Tippetts received the support of 2% of the likely voters while the Green Party’s Delilah Barrios received 1%. A relatively small proportion of voters (6%) indicated that they remained undecided.
Read Report One to learn more.
Report Two. Texas 2022 Elections & Issues: How Ready is Texas for Another Winter Storm?
The second report examines the opinions of Texans regarding the response by the Texas state government over the past year to the Winter Storm of 2021, their opinions about how well prepared we are to confront a new storm, how soon they expect a similar polar vortex to hit Texas, who they will blame if we experience a repeat of the February 2021 cold weather-induced power outage, and support for the expansion and reduction of the country’s reliance on different energy sources.
- Texans are split between those who believe (53%) and do not believe (47%) that the laws passed by the Texas Legislature during the 2021 legislative session improved the reliability of the state’s electrical grid.
- Three-quarters (74%) of Texans believe that the owners of the state’s electrical generation plants have adequately weatherized their facilities over the past year so that the loss of electrical power due to the failure of electricity generation plants is no longer a cause for concern. However, only 55% believe the upstream and midstream natural gas industry has carried out reforms such that Texans no longer have cause to be concerned about a loss of electrical power due to the failure of the natural gas industry to supply the electricity generation plants with fuel.
- An absolute majority (57%) of Texans believe that Texas will experience another extended-period of below freezing temperatures similar to those in February 2021 at some point during the next three years.
- More than two-thirds of Texans (70%) will hold the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) responsible if Texas experiences another winter-induced power outage, and nearly half (49%) will hold Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas (47%) responsible if they find themselves without heat and power amidst below-freezing temperatures again this year.
- Nearly one quarter (24%) of Texans reported that how state elected officials responded to the February 2021 winter storm will be a very important factor influencing their voting decisions in 2022, with a third (32%) reporting that it would be one of several factors influencing their vote decision and 44% responding that how the officials responded to the February 2021 winter storm would not influence their vote decisions this year in any way.
- Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Texans favor expanding reliance on geothermal power plants and solar power plants while the expansion of hydrogen power plants (58%), wind turbine farms (56%) and hydroelectric dams (55%) also receive majority support.
Read Report Two to learn more.
Media Release February 3, 2022
Report Three. Texas 2022 Elections & Issues: Direction, Issues, Favorability & January 6, 2021
The third report in this series examines the opinions of Texans about the following: the current direction of the United States and of Texas; the most important issue for them in deciding how to vote in the 2022 gubernatorial election; abortion policy; candidate favorability; and the 2021 storming of the Capitol.
- A large majority (64%) of Texas registered voters believe that the direction of the United States is off on the wrong track.
- 88% of Texas Republicans believe that things in the United States are off on the wrong track while 46% of Texas Democrats believe the nation is headed in the right direction.
- Texas registered voters are more evenly divided in regard to the direction of the Lone Star State, with 48% believing the state is off on the wrong track and 41% of the opinion that the state is headed in the right direction.
- 69% of Texas Democrats believe that things in Texas are off on the wrong track while 63% of Texas Republicans believe the state is headed in the right direction.
- The four issues (out of 11) that Texans ranked as the most important factor in determining who to support in the November gubernatorial election are border security (29%), economic growth (13%), voting rights reform (12%), and health care (10%).
- Among Texas Republican primary voters, 58% listed border security as the most important policy issue affecting their gubernatorial vote decision, followed at a distance by economic growth (17%).
- Among Texas Democratic primary voters, the top four issues are voting rights reform (23%), health care (18%), climate change (11%), and economic inequality (9%).
- Among Texas registered voters with an opinion, when asked to choose which of three abortion rules came closest to their own belief of the point in which an abortion should be banned (except for medical emergencies), 43% chose a ban after 6 weeks, 17% chose a ban after 15 weeks, and 40% chose a ban after 24 weeks.
- Among 17 national and state political figures, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (3%), Comptroller Glenn Hegar (2%), Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (2%), Governor Greg Abbott (0%) and Land Commissioner George P. Bush (0%) have the highest net favorability ratings.
- Among 17 national and state figures, those with the lowest net favorability ratings are U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (-25%), U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (-22%), U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (-15%), Vice President Kamala Harris (-13%) and President Joe Biden (-11%).
- Three-fifths (60%) of Texas Republicans have a very favorable opinion of former president Donald Trump, with another 26% having a somewhat favorable opinion of the former president.
- Three-fifths (60%) of Texas Democrats have a very favorable opinion of gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, who is viewed in a somewhat favorable light by 27% of Democrats.
- One-half (52%) of Texans indicated that they strongly opposed the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters. This proportion is down from 66% in a survey taken a year earlier immediately after the events of January 6. During the same period of time, support for the storming of the U.S. Capitol among Texans has risen from 16% in January 2021 to 23% in January 2022.
Read Report Three to learn more.
Media Release February 8, 2022
Report Four. Texas 2022 Elections & Issues: Proposed Voting and Election Reforms
The final report in this series examines support for and opposition to 18 different voting and election related reforms contained in the federal Freedom to Vote Act. There exists a strong consensus among Texans in support of numerous reforms, with majority support by both Democrats and Republicans in many cases.
- Anti-fraud reforms are supported by more than four out of every five Texans, with 87% supporting a reform that would require states to conduct transparent post-election audits that adhere to clearly defined rules and procedures, 85% supporting a reform that would require all electronic voting machines to provide voter-verified paper records, and 80% creating a national standard for voter photo identification for those states that require voters to provide a photo ID when voting in person. More than three out of four Texas Republicans and Democrats support these three anti-fraud reforms.
- Campaign finance reforms are backed by more than four out of every five Texans, with 88% supporting a reform that would tighten campaign finance rules to keep Super PACs from coordinating their federal campaign activities with candidates and 84% supporting a reform that would require any entity (such as a dark money PAC) that spends more than $10,000 in a federal election to disclose the names of its major donors. More than three out of four Texas Democrats and Republicans support these three campaign finance reforms.
- More than four out of five (84%) Texans support a reform that would ban partisan gerrymandering for congressional elections and require congressional districts to be drawn using clear and neutral standards. Support for this ban ranges from a high of 93% among Texas Democrats to a low of 76% of Republicans.
- More than two-thirds of Texans favor two reforms related to Election Day. More than three-quarters (76%) support a reform that would require the state to insure that wait times for in-person voting do not exceed 30 minutes while 71% support making Election Day a public holiday. These reforms are supported by nine out of ten Democrats (89%, 90%, respectively) and by a majority of Republicans (55%, 63%, respectively).
- Texans are very supportive of early voting reforms (which are all already in force in the case of Texas election law). More than four out of five Texans support requiring a state’s early voting period to begin at least two weeks before election day (84%), requiring at least 10 hours early voting each weekday (82%) and requiring early voting to be held on weekends for at least eight hours a day (81%). More than two-thirds (72%) of all Texas voters support requiring states to provide at least 10 hours of early voting each weekday during the early voting period, with more than nine out of 10 Democrats supporting these reforms, as do more than two out of three Republicans.
- Only one-half (50%) of Texans support (and 50% oppose) no-excuse mail voting under which all voters are eligible to vote by mail without having to provide a reason. While this reform enjoys very strong support among Texas Democrats (87%), fewer than one in five (17%) Texas Republicans support it. Three out of four (76%) Black Texans support this reform compared to 59% of Latino and 38% of white Texans.
- Texans are sharply divided on a reform that would allow former felons to vote immediately upon their release from prison, which 55% of Texans support and 45% oppose. While this reform enjoys strong support among 80% of Texas Democrats, only 29% of Texas Republicans support it.
- Texans are also relatively evenly split on a reform that would allow voters to register to vote at the polling location where they cast their ballot (same day voter registration), with 58% supporting this reform and 42% opposing it. While 86% of Democrats support this reform, that position is shared by only 32% of Republicans.
Read Report Four to learn more.
Media Release February 10, 2022
Renée Cross, Senior Director & Researcher, Hobby School of Public Affairs
Mark P. Jones, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy's Fellow in Political Science, Rice University; Senior Research Fellow, Hobby School of Public Affairs
Savannah Sipole, Research Associate, Hobby School of Public Affairs
Agustín Vallejo, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Hobby School of Public Affairs
Additional Texas ReportsThe Texas Voter ID Law and the 2014 Election: A Study of Texas’s 23rd Congressional District