AUSTIN, Texas — In the 2012 general election for U.S. senator from Texas, Republican Ted Cruz leads Democrat Paul Sadler by 15 percentage points, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll.
Fifty-four percent of likely voters in the poll said they preferred Cruz, with 39 percent naming Sadler. Forty-nine percent of likely voters have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of Cruz, while 29 percent are very or somewhat unfavorable, and 22 percent are either neutral or don’t have an opinion of him. When asked about Sadler, 23 percent have a favorable opinion, 14 percent have an unfavorable opinion, and 63 percent are either neutral or don’t have an opinion of him.
“Sadler has not done an enormous amount of TV, did not do an enormous amount of advertising, he didn’t have an enormous amount of money and he didn’t have an enormous amount of organization,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project and a lecturer in the Department of Government, who oversees the survey. “It’s hard to become broadly known around the state.”
The statewide poll conducted October 15-20 surveyed 800 registered Texas voters and has a margin of error of +/- 3.46 percentage points. Of the 800 registered voters in the poll, 540 were identified as likely voters based on self-reported interest in politics and certainty of voting in the election (margin of error for the likely voter sub-sample is +/- 4.22 percentage points).
Likely voters were nearly split on their opinion of Gov. Rick Perry. Forty-five percent had a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of the governor, while 42 percent indicated a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable opinion. When asked whether they would vote for Perry if he were to run for governor again in 2014, only 22 percent of likely voters said they would cast a ballot for Perry. Forty-two percent said they would vote against the governor, while 35 percent said they would “wait and see” who would run against him.
Attorney General Greg Abbott, who may run for governor in 2014, was given a very favorable or somewhat favorable rating by 30 percent of likely voters, and a somewhat or very unfavorable rating by 19 percent. Fifty-two percent of likely voters were either neutral toward Abbott or couldn’t rate him at all.
The poll showed continued strong support among Texans for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the U.S. presidential race. If the general election were held today, 55 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Romney, compared with 39 percent who would vote for President Barack Obama. The margin is similar to a poll taken in May that showed Romney leading 55 to 35 percent.
Fifty-two percent of likely voters said they had a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of Romney, compared with 39 percent for Obama. Fifty-seven percent said they had a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable opinion of Obama, compared with 41 percent for Romney.
Among vice presidential candidates, the numbers were almost identical to their top-of-the-ticket counterparts. Fifty-three percent of likely voters said they had a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, compared with 39 percent for Vice President Joe Biden. Fifty-six percent said they had a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable opinion of Biden, compared with 36 percent for Ryan.
Opinions of Obama’s job performance are slightly negative overall. Forty percent of respondents approved strongly or approved somewhat of Obama’s performance as president, with 53 percent disapproving strongly or disapproving somewhat. The performance of Congress continued to fare extremely poorly in the eyes of Texas voters, with 69 percent of respondents disapproving strongly or disapproving somewhat. Only 1 percent said they “approve strongly” of Congress.
“One percent strongly approve of Congress — that’s my favorite stat in the poll,” says Daron Shaw, professor of Government at The University of Texas at Austin, who also oversees the survey. “Texans really, really don’t like those guys.”
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. Additional poll results will be released and available at the website throughout the week.