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Latest UT/Texas Tribune Poll: Tax Pledge Issue Reveals Conservative Divide

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posted: Thursday May 24, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas — Although a plurality of Texans say candidates should not take an anti-tax pledge before the primary elections, such a pledge has strong support among voters who identify with the tea party movement, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll.

Forty-seven percent of those polled said candidates should not make pledges before the fiscal situation is clear, while 36 percent believe candidates should make pledges not to increase taxes before the primary elections.

However, a closer examination of the May 13-17 statewide poll of 800 registered Texas voters indicated that 60 percent of voters who identify with the tea party were strongly in favor of candidates taking an anti-tax pledge.

“The support for anti-tax pledges among ideologically committed conservative voters, who are very likely to show up to vote, helps explain why such pledges have spread from Washington, D.C., to GOP politics in Texas,” says James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project and a lecturer in the Department of Government at The University of Texas at Austin, who oversees the survey. “These results illustrate a political dynamic that has serious consequences for policy and governance in the state far beyond the primary elections.”

The economy continues to be an important issue to Texas voters. Twenty-six percent of those polled said the economy was the most important problem facing the country today. Eighteen percent cited federal spending and the national debt as most important. In contrast, 12 percent of respondents identified the economy as the most important problem facing Texas.

Twelve percent of those polled said immigration was the most important problem facing the state, and 11 percent identified border security as the most important problem.

Texans were somewhat split on whether local law enforcement officials should enforce federal immigration laws. Forty-two percent said local law enforcement officials should be allowed to enforce federal immigration laws, but it should not be their primary responsibility. Thirty-seven percent said local law enforcement officials should be required to actively enforce federal immigration laws.

On social issues, 51 percent of those polled said the death penalty was applied fairly in the state. Twenty-eight percent said it was applied unfairly, and 21 percent had no opinion. When asked to choose between alternative penalties for murder, 53 percent favored the death penalty, while 37 percent favored life imprisonment with no possibility for parole.

On the issue of abortion, 37 percent of those polled said a woman should always be able to obtain an abortion as a matter of personal choice, while 33 percent said the law should permit abortion only in cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is in danger.

This is the latest in a series of online polls conducted by the Texas Politics Project and The Texas Tribune.

Comprehensive poll results, information about methodology and the survey dataset will be available at the Texas Politics Project website later this week. A full summary of the poll (PDF) is available at The Texas Tribune website.

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