UH Survey: Most Think U.S. Is Heading Off Track, but Opinions Are Mixed on Texas’ Direction

Survey Also Finds Anger Cooling, Support Growing for Jan. 6 Insurrection at US Capitol

Photo of road sign that warns of curves ahead
A new survey from the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs found political affiliation to be a determining factor on how survey respondents felt about the general direction the U.S. and Texas are headed. The survey also asked for opinions on politics, current affairs, abortion and current political figures. Photo credit: Pexels

The U.S. is headed down the wrong track, say a large majority of Texans in a survey from the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs. When asked the same question about the state, survey respondents were divided more evenly with a narrow plurality thinking Texas is generally headed the right way.

The survey also found outrage to be ebbing over the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol. In the overall responses, only about one half (52%) of respondents indicated they are strongly opposed to the action (down from 66% in response to the same question in a Hobby School of Public Affairs poll immediately after the event) and 23% support the event (up from last year’s 16%). A closer look at those overall numbers reveals sharp distinctions along political divides.

“There is a huge difference of opinion about the Jan. 6 event with 80% of Texas Democrats strongly opposing that day’s events compared to 29% of Republicans in strong opposition. That is a very wide chasm in opinion. As with most opinions about politics and policy today, Texas partisans find little agreement here,” said Renée Cross, senior director of the Hobby School of Public Affairs.

Those results are among the findings from an online survey – “Texas 2022 Elections & Issues – Direction, Issues, Favorability & January 6, 2021” – involving 1,400 registered voters in Texas. The survey, conducted in English and Spanish from Jan. 14-24, also asked participants what limits on abortion they would support, which issues will most influence their vote in the 2022 race for Texas governor and who among current political figures they most find most favorable.

Abortion Policy

The survey asked participants which of three abortion policies was closest to their own opinion – a ban on most abortions after six weeks (current Texas policy) or after 15 weeks (Mississippi legislation presently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court) or after 24 weeks (Roe v. Wade).

“If Texas were to adopt the abortion policy closest to the position of the average Texan, the survey suggests it would be a ban after 15 weeks, such as is contained in the Mississippi legislation,” said Mark Jones, UH Hobby School senior research associate and Rice University political science fellow. “This is where the average Texan falls in the survey, but only one-fifth of respondents preferred the 15-week ban. The rest were evenly divided between the extremes – two fifths backing a six-week ban and the remaining two-fifths favoring the 24-week ban,” Jones explained.

Looking Nationally

When it comes to questions about the general direction the state and country are heading, more political divisions came into focus.

Among Texas Republicans, only 8% think the country is on the right track. An overwhelming 88% believe the country is headed down the wrong road.

Texas Democrats divide more evenly on the issue, with 46% responding that the national direction is OK, and 38% thinking the country is headed off track.

Eyes on Texas

Texas Democrats were clear on their view of the state’s direction, with 69% saying the state is headed wrongly and 21% saying the direction is OK.

Texas Republicans represent the reverse, with 63% saying Texas is on the right track and 27% critical of the state’s direction.

Other issues

Among issues in the governor’s race, the two chosen as most decisive in determining their vote choice by Republicans and Democrats were border security and economic growth among Republicans and voting rights and health care among Democrats.

There were no surprises about politics when it came to the question of which political figures these Texans have the most favorable opinions of. Donald Trump was the most popular choice among Texas Republicans, followed by Gov. Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz. Beto O’Rourke was the most popular among Texas Democrats, followed by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

More details from the survey, including breakdowns of demographics, can be found here. The “Texas 2022 Elections & Issues – Direction, Issues, Favorability & January 6, 2021” survey was conducted online by YouGov for the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs and reflects a confidence interval of +/-2.2%.