Texans Show Strong Support for Water Infrastructure Funding, According to UT/Texas Tribune Poll

Oct. 14, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas — A majority of Texas voters believe it is important for the state to invest in water infrastructure and support a constitutional amendment allotting a portion of the state’s Rainy Day Fund to finance water projects, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll.

Fifty-two percent of Texans said they would vote in November for Proposition 6, which would allot $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to assist in the financing of Texas water projects. Nineteen percent said they would vote against financing the funds, and 29 percent said they don’t intend to vote or don’t have an opinion.

The statewide poll, conducted Sept. 27 to Oct. 4, surveyed 800 registered Texas voters and had a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points.

The pollsters caution that with extremely low turnout in constitutional elections, overall results need to be carefully interpreted. After the survey was completed, the UT researchers looked at various subsets of the polling results using “voter screens” — different combinations of voters’ expressed interest in politics, the legislature and the upcoming election — to estimate different groups of likely voters.

“We found strong overall support for Proposition 6, and the percentage supporting the measure increased in all of the likely voter screens,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at The University of Texas at Austin and a co-director of the poll. “In many scenarios, support increased by more than 10 percentage points.”

Asked to rate the importance of the state’s infrastructure needs, 93 percent said water infrastructure was very or somewhat important. Roads and public education were rated as very or somewhat important by 94 and 92 percent, respectively.

By a wide margin, Texas voters prefer to vote directly on the state’s big decisions, rather than leaving the decisions to legislators. Seventy-five percent said it is best to let the voters decide on big decisions, with only 16 percent agreeing that big decisions should be left to legislators.

“Many scholars and policymakers would prefer to let legislators and other elected officials determine things like this,” said Daron Shaw, a government professor at UT Austin and co-director of the poll. “But the public wants to maintain control, and the Texas Constitution specifically gives them that right.”

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.

Support for the poll was provided by the Meadows Foundation, which helped establish The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University-San Marcos.

On the Web: An interactive chart titled “Turnout as a Percentage of Voting-Age Population in Five Types of Texas Elections and Presidential Elections,” which includes specific special election turnout figures from 1977 to 2011, can be found at the website of UT Austin’s Texas Politics Project. A table with the results of various voter screens of the poll results can also be found at the site.

For more information, contact: David Ochsner, College of Liberal Arts, 512 626 0788; Daron Shaw, Department of Government, College of Liberal Arts, 512-232-7275; James Henson, Department of Government, 512-468-4113.