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UH-TSU Texas Trends Survey

Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Congressman Mickey Leland.

Three Texas legends who dedicated their lives to serving the Lone Star State.

Their political careers were in full swing in the early 1970s, when the Texas population was smaller and less diverse. They had a common goal: to create a better state for everyone. 

Fifty years later, Texas looks a lot different today. According to the decennial survey completed in 2020, Texas’ population is 29,145,505, with the largest 10-year population gain (3,999,944) and the third highest growth rate (15.9%) in the nation. The vast majority of the state’s growth is due to people of color.

In the spirit of these Texas legends, the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston and the Executive Master of Public Administration Program in the Barbara Jordan – Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University are launching the Texas Trends Survey, a five-year project to study Texas’s changing population and opinions. In addition to a representative sample of all Texans, the surveys will include an oversample of people of color to allow for an objective and statistically valid report of their opinions and experiences. The data gleaned from the annual surveys and reports will be shared with policymakers, business and community leaders, academics and the general public. With objective data in hand, decision makers throughout the state will be equipped to determine the best routes leading to a better Texas for everyone.

 

Report One. Texas Trends Survey 2021: Abortion and Transgender Athlete Policies

The inaugural Texas Trends Survey conducted by the Hobby School of Public Affairs and the Executive Master of Public Administration Program in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University focuses on opinions about recently passed legislation during the 2021 regular and special sessions of the Texas Legislature and other timely issues important to the Lone Star State. The results of this survey will be presented in four separate reports: abortion and transgender athlete policies, redistricting and election reforms, electric vehicles and criminal justice issues.

The first report of the 2021 Texas Trends Survey examines Texans’ attitudes and preferences related to public policies governing abortion and the requirement that public school students compete only in UIL sports associated with their biological sex.

The survey was fielded Oct. 4-21, 2021 in English and Spanish, with 2,067 YouGov respondents 18 years of age and older, resulting in a confidence interval of +/-2.2. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, ethnicity/race, and education and are representative of the Texas adult population.

 

Summary

Texas adults were queried about under what conditions abortion should be legal at several stages of pregnancy: immediately after six weeks (the current Texas law before the U.S. Supreme Court), after 15 weeks (the Mississippi law before the U.S. Supreme Court), and after 20 weeks (the Texas law prior to September 2021).

Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), the 2021 Texas abortion law, provides no exceptions for either rape or incest, and only permits abortion after six weeks if the mother’s life is at risk.  More than two-thirds (69%) of Texans hold the position that the current Texas abortion legislation is too restrictive, with almost half (46%) believing abortion should be legal in most or all cases after six weeks, and close to one-fourth (23%) thinking that abortion should be allowed after six weeks only in the event of rape or incest or risk to the mother’s life.

However, when Texans were asked how much they support or oppose the legislation (SB 8) banning abortion after a “fetal heartbeat” could be detectable (around six weeks of pregnancy) except to save the mother’s life: 37% of Texans strongly support the legislation, 18% somewhat support it, 11% somewhat oppose it, and 34% strongly oppose it.  In sum, among those Texans with an opinion, a narrow majority of 55% supports the legislation while 45% opposes it. This legislation is supported by three-fourths of those Texans whose preferred abortion policy at six weeks is to allow abortion only in the case of rape or incest, exceptions absent from SB 8, in addition to if the mother’s life is at risk.

In regard to the restrictions contained in the Mississippi law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks, except in the event the mother’s life is at risk or there is severe fetal abnormality, 30% believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 31% believe abortion should always be illegal. Two-fifths believe abortion should only be legal in the case of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is at risk (23%) or only if the mother’s life is at risk (16%).

Since 2013, Texas has prohibited abortion after 20 weeks except when the mother’s life is at risk. This legislation is not seen as too restrictive by a majority (57%) of Texans. Almost two in five (37%) believe abortion should be illegal in all cases after 20 weeks while another 20% believe abortion should only be legal if the mother’s life is a risk. One-fifth (22%) support abortion after 20 weeks only in the case of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is at risk while 21% support allowing abortion after 20 weeks in all or most cases. 

Black (61%, 42%) Texans are significantly more likely than white (44%, 30%) and Latino (45%, 27%) Texans to believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases after six and 15 weeks, respectively.

Support among Democrats for abortion being legal in most or all cases after six, 15 and 20 weeks is 67%, 51% and 35%, respectively, compared to only 27%, 10% and 7% among Republicans. In contrast, 34%, 45% and 53% of Republicans hold the position that abortion should always be illegal at six, 15 and 20 weeks, respectively, compared to only 10%, 18% and 21% of Democrats.

Approximately two-thirds support allowing an abortion when the baby’s hope of surviving for a long time after birth is near zero (67%) and when the baby would be born with a life threatening disease (65%).  If the baby would be born with a serious disability, 58% of Texans favor allowing an abortion to take place.

The respondents were asked about their level of support for House Bill 25 (HB 25) from the third 2021 special session requiring Texas public high school and middle school students to compete only in sports associated with their biological sex, such that a transgender female would not be eligible to compete in athletics with biological females. More than one-half (55%) of Texans strongly support HB 25, along with 15% who somewhat support it for a total proportion of support of 70%. Only 17% of Texans strongly oppose the legislation while 13% somewhat oppose it.

Three-fourths (75%) of whites, 64% of Latinos, and 63% of Blacks support HB 25.

More than nine out of every ten (91%) Republicans support HB 25 compared to 73% of Independents and 48% of Democrats.

Read Report One to learn more about where Texans stand on the laws governing abortion and transgender athletes.

Media Release October 27, 2021

 

Report Two. Texas Trends Survey 2021: Election Reform and Redistricting

The 2021 Texas Trends Survey’s second report examines Texans’ attitudes and preferences related to election reforms passed during the second special session of the 2021 Texas Legislature and redistricting.

Highlights

  • The change in the minimum number of early voting hours from eight to nine hours is supported by 86% of Texans opposed by only 14%.
  • The change making ballot harvesting a third degree felony is supported by 82% of Texans and opposed by only 18%.
  • The change requiring Texans to provide their drivers’ license number (or last four numbers of their Social Security number) on both their mail ballot application and their mail ballot is supported by 74% and opposed by 26%.
  • The modification explicitly restricting assistance to disabled Texas voters of only reading and marking the ballot by those assisting them is supported by 69% and opposed by 31%.
  • The change allowing Texas voters to correct mail ballot errors online to prevent their ballot from being rejected is supported by 66% and opposed by 34%.
  • The change allowing partisan poll watchers to have more freedom of movement throughout the polling place is supported by 63% and opposed by 37%.
  • The prohibition of drive-thru voting is supported by 59% and opposed by 41%.
  • Making it a felony for an election administrator to send a mail ballot application to anyone who has not solicited one is supported by 59% and opposed by 41%.
  • The change of prohibiting 24-hour early voting by requiring polls to open no earlier than 6AM and close no later than 10PM is supported by 58% and opposed by 42%.
  • While 69% of whites support making it a felony for an election administrator to mail out unsolicited mail ballot applications, this change is backed by only 39% of African Americans and by 52% of Latinos.
  • 66% of white Texans support the ban on drive-thru voting compared to 55% of Latinos and 42% of Blacks.
  • Noteworthy generational differences exist in regard to support for the ban on drive-thru voting, which is supported by more than two-thirds (69%) of the Silent/Baby Boomer generations, but by only 51% of Millennials and 52% of Generation Z, with Generation X halfway between the two extremes at 60%.
  • The proportion of Republican support for the three reforms ranges from 79% (prohibit 24-hour voting) to 85% (prohibit drive-thru voting), more than double the proportion of Democratic support for these two reforms of 32% and 33%.
  • When asked “How much of a problem is it, when one political party controls the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature, that the legislative districts are drawn to intentionally favor that majority party?”, 48% of Texans believe the scenario described is a major problem, 21% believe it is a minor problem, 12% do not consider it to be a problem, and 19% don’t know enough to have an opinion. Excluding the don’t know responses, 59% of Texans with an opinion believe that this scenario of tailor-made districts designed by, and to benefit, the majority party is a major problem compared to 27% who see it as a minor problem and 14% who don’t consider it to be a problem.
  • 76% of Democrats considers one party control over the redistricting process resulting in legislative districts intentionally drawn to favor the majority party to be a major problem, with only 6% considering it not to be a problem. A majority of Independents (57%) also considers the scenario to be a major problem, with 19% of Independents not seeing it as a problem at all.  A plurality of 45% of Republicans considers this situation to be a major problem, followed by 35% who view it as a minor problem and 20% who don’t consider it to be a problem.

Read Report Two to learn more about where Texans stand on election laws and redistricting.

Media Release October 29, 2021

 

Report Three. Texas Trends Survey 2021: Criminal Justice Reforms

This report examines Texans’ attitudes related to criminal justice and proposed criminal justice reforms in the Lone Star State.

Highlights

The survey respondents were asked how much they support or oppose the implementation of nine proposed criminal justice policies in Texas:

  1. Cut police department budgets.
  2. Require police officers to receive more extensive conflict de-escalation training.
  3. End Stop-and-Frisk policing, where officers have wide discretion to stop people and search them for weapons.
  4. Use some of the police department’s budget to fund social services.
  5. Allow first-time offenders charged with a non-violent crime to be released without paying bail while they await trial.
  6. Legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana.
  7. Legalize the sale and use of recreational meth, cocaine, heroin and opioids.
  8. Prosecute police officers who use excessive force.
  9. Require police officers to receive more extensive racial bias training.
  • The most popular proposed policy would require police officers to receive more extensive conflict de-escalation training, which is supported by 86% of Texans, and is followed closely in support (79%) by a policy that would require the prosecution of police officers who use excessive force.
  • Two additional reforms also enjoy robust support. One would require police officers to receive more extensive racial bias training, a policy that is supported by 74% of Texans, while another (67%) would legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana.
  • Two proposed reforms are opposed by a majority of Texans. Three-quarters (75%) of the respondents oppose cutting the police budget, and 52% oppose using part of the police department’s budget for funding social services.
  • A higher proportion of Black Texans than white and Latino Texans supports every one of the nine reforms.
  • In the case of four reforms, Black support is substantially greater than both white and Latino support, with the levels among the latter two not significantly different. Most noteworthy is the support of more than one-half of Blacks (51%) for cutting police department budgets compared to less than one-quarter of Latinos (23%) and whites (20%).

The respondents were asked the extent to which they agreed with four “pro-police” statements:

  1. The budget for the police in my community should be increased.
  2. Because police officers have such dangerous jobs, we should not second-guess the decisions they make.
  3. I trust the police in my community.
  4. People today do not give our police officers the respect they deserve.
  • More than two-thirds of the respondents agree that they trust the police in their community and that people today do not give police officers the respect they deserve while more than three-fifths also agree that the budget for the police in their community should be increased. In contrast, three-fifths of Texans do not agree that because police officers have such dangerous jobs, we should not second-guess the decisions they make.
  • Several of the racial/ethnic differences in “pro-police” support are substantial. For instance, 78% of whites and 68% of Latinos trust the police in their community compared to only 50% of Blacks. And while 77% of whites and 69% of Latinos agree that people don’t give police the respect they deserve, only 47% of African Americans concur. Finally, while 69% of whites and 63% of Latinos agree that the budget for the police in their community should be increased, only 48% of Blacks concur.

The respondents were asked what impact three bail reform policies would have on the amount of crime in their community.

  • More than four-fifths (82%) believe that a policy that prevents suspects with previous convictions for violent crimes from being released on bail would reduce crime.
  • Three-quarters (75%) of Texans believe that a policy that would prevent suspects who have been arrested while currently out on bail to again be released on bail would reduce crime.
  • More than three-quarters of white, Latino and Black Texans believe that preventing suspects who have prior convictions for violent crimes from being released on bail will reduce crime.
  • More than two-thirds of all three groups believe that preventing suspects who are arrested while out on bail from being released on bail again will reduce crime.
  • Slightly more than half of Texans agree that Blacks and Latinos receive less equal treatment than whites in the Texas criminal justice system.
  • One half of Texans agree that the police in Texas treat Blacks and Latinos less favorably than whites.
  • More than half (54%) of Texans agree that Texas police officers are more likely to use force when confronting Black suspects than when confronting white suspects, and one half (50%) also believe this to be true when confronting Latino suspects rather than white suspects.

Read Report Three to learn more about where Texans stand on criminal justice reforms.

Media Release November 11, 2021

 

Research Team

Michael O. Adams, Professor of Political Science and Founding Director of the Executive Master of Public Administration Program, Texas Southern University

Gail Buttorff, Co-Director, Survey Research Institute; Instructional Assistant Professor, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Renée Cross, Senior Director & Researcher, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Jim Granato, Dean, 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 

Johanna Luttrell, Assistant Director, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership; Instructional Assistant Professor, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Henrietta MacPepple, Research Assistant, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Pablo M. Pinto, Director, Center for Public Policy; Professor, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Carroll G. Robinson, Associate Professor, Texas Southern University

Savannah Sipole, Research Associate, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Agustín Vallejo, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Sunny Wong, Professor, Hobby School of Public Affairs