Even the Texas GOP isn’t safe from the toxicity of Donald Trump.
At least, that’s what Public Policy Polling’s latest Texas poll, released this week, seems to suggest. Trump is polling at only 44% in Texas, while Hillary Clinton is at 38%. Gary Johnson came in third at 6%, while Jill Stein polled at 2%. Trump’s lead remained at 6%, or 50-44, when matched against Hillary in a head-to-head contest.
As a reminder, Mitt Romney won Texas by 16 percentage points back in 2012. Trump’s current lead is only in the single digits.
Where it really gets interesting is the breakdown of which Texans are supporting Trump. As you might expect, Trump’s lead seems to be coming exclusively from his support among older, whiter voters. Some highlights:
- Trump holds a 63-33 lead among voters over age 65. Hillary Clinton leads Trump 49-45 among voters younger than 65. And she leads 60-35 among voters under 45.
- Trump’s lead among white voters is a staggering 69-25. But Hillary leads 73-21 among non-white voters.
- Hillary’s lead among Hispanic voters is 68-27.
Another conclusion we can draw from the PPP poll results is that Texan Trump supporters appear to be totally out of touch with reality. Here are a few examples:
- 71% of Trump supporters said that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, it will be because it’s rigged.
- 40% of Trump supporters think ACORN (which no longer exists) is going to rig the election for Hillary.
- 35% of Trump supporters think Barack Obama founded ISIS.
- If Hillary Clinton wins the election, 61% of Trump supporters said they were in favor of seceding from the United States.
The presidential results were only the first part of the PPP poll. Yesterday, they released the good stuff: their results on Ted Cruz.
According to the PPP poll, only 39% of Texas voters approve of Ted Cruz, while 48% disapprove. What’s more, 52% of Texas Republicans — Cruz’s core constituency — said they prefer Trump over Cruz as their presidential nominee.
But here’s the kicker. While Cruz retains a comfortable lead among GOP voters against most potential Republican challengers (like Michael McCaul and Dan Patrick), there’s one challenger that handily defeats Cruz: Rick Perry.
Yes, former Governor Good-Hair leads “Wacko Bird” Cruz by 9 points in PPP’s hypothetical 2018 matchup. That one must be especially painful for Ted — a man who can barely count to 3 is more popular than an Ivy League-educated incumbent senator whose identity rests on believing he’s smarter than everyone else in the room.
Before Texas Democrats get excited, the PPP results also suggest that we have a lot of work to do if we want to turn these results to our advantage. Cruz would still lead Democrats like Julian Castro and Wendy Davis by 12 points in head-to-head 2018 matchups. Greg Abbott has a 54% approval rating, and readily defeats hypothetical challengers Castro and Davis in general election matchups by at least 25 points. A lot can change in 2 years, but Democrats are still facing an uphill climb if we want to win a statewide office in 2018.
Nonetheless, the results suggest opportunities for progressives, especially if we think on a smaller scale. Despite the small margin in the PPP poll, it’s unlikely Hillary Clinton is going to win Texas. But Trump’s unpopularity as a candidate could serve as a boon to local Democrats running this year, who have an opportunity to turn out voters against the Republican party in down-ballot races. For example, the already tight race in CD-23 between Pete Gallego and Will Hurd will likely benefit from increased presidential turnout from voters eager to vote against Trump. And there are many other tightly contested local races across the state that can similarly benefit.
So, yes, there’s work to be done. But with candidates as unlikeable as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Republicans have done some of that work for us.