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New Hobby Survey Finds Trump Holds Commanding Lead Among Texas GOP Primary Voters

Survey Also Finds Trump Leads President Biden by Nine Points in November General Election

Hand dropping paper vote into ballot box with Texax flag as background.

HOUSTON – Former President Donald Trump is poised for an overwhelming victory in the upcoming Texas Republican presidential primary, the choice of 80% of voters. Just 19% plan to vote for former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, the only remaining challenger in the GOP race.

A survey of likely Texas voters by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston found broad support for Trump across demographic groups, including the closely watched Latino electorate. Among Latinos planning to vote in the Republican primary, 86% say they will vote for Trump, compared to 13% for Haley. In an expected November match with Democratic President Joe Biden, Trump is the choice of 47% of Texas Latinos, compared to 41% for Biden.

Overall, 49% of Texans plan to vote for Trump in November, while 40% will vote for Biden and 11% say they support a third-party candidate or are undecided.

The primary is March 5. Early voting begins Feb. 20.

“Former President Trump remains resoundingly popular in Texas, especially among Republican and independent voters,” said Renée Cross, senior executive director of the Hobby School and one of the researchers on the project. “Latinos make up a key piece of the electorate, and we found strong support for Trump among Latino men in a general election contest with Biden. If Democratic campaigns once thought they could take Latino voters for granted, it’s clear that is no longer true.”

Slightly more than half, or 55%, of Latinos planning to vote in the Democratic primary say they support Biden, with 45% undecided or planning to vote for another candidate.

Twice as many Latino likely votes have a very favorable opinion of Trump (39%) than of Biden (19%), while the proportion of Latinos with very unfavorable opinions of Trump and Biden is similar, at 48% and 52% respectively.

The survey findings indicate that immigration remains a powerful issue for Republican voters in Texas, with more than nine out of 10 Trump voters saying they support border policies pushed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

“Donald Trump is strongly associated with calls to tighten the border and reduce unauthorized immigration, and we found Republican primary voters in Texas almost universally support such policies,” said Mark P. Jones, political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and senior research fellow at the Hobby School. “Border security is top-of-mind for Republicans: in the study we found that 92% of Trump voters in Texas approve of Abbott’s plan to spend $3 billion a year on efforts to control the border, and 93% agree with allowing state law enforcement officers to arrest undocumented immigrants.”

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • 72% of Democratic primary voters plan to vote for Biden; 5% support Marianne Williamson, with 17% undecided and the rest split among other candidates.
  • In a pair of hypothetical contests, Trump holds a 13-point lead over Kamala Harris; Haley led Biden by four points.
  • Voters are sharply split on whether Biden and Trump are too old to serve as president. 72% said Biden, at 81, is too old, while 40% said the same about Trump, who is 77. That’s largely explained along partisan lines, with 41% of Biden voters saying their candidate is too old, compared to just 8% of Trump voters who say the same about the GOP frontrunner.
  • Trump leads Haley among all demographic and socioeconomic groups in the Republican primary but is weakest among college graduates. Even there, he is the choice of two-thirds of Republican voters, or 67%, compared to 31% for Haley.
  • Biden is strongest among Black voters in the Democratic primary, at 79%, and members of the silent and baby boom generations, at 78%. His support among younger voters drops to 61%.
  • There is significant support for limited gun control measures, with 88% of Biden voters and 64% of Trump voters in favor of restricting the purchase of AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles to people 21 and older. 96% of Biden voters and 49% of Trump voters favor allowing a judge to confiscate the weapons of a person determined to be a threat to themselves or others.

The full report is available on the Hobby School website. Future reports will examine voter attitudes in the Texas U.S. Senate election and factors influencing Republican primary voters in Texas state House elections.

The survey asked 1,500 likely Texas voters about their preferences regarding candidates and policies in the upcoming primary election. It was conducted between January 11 and January 24, 2024, in English and Spanish. The margin of error is +/- 2.5%.

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