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Most Texans disapprove of trigger law banning abortion, say state is on wrong track

A Texas Politics Project poll also surveyed voters on their choice for Texas governor, Greg Abbott or Beto O’Rourke.

Abortion rights supporters
Abortion rights supporters gather at the Dallas City Hall after marching in downtown Dallas on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

By Rylee Wilson

A majority of Texans disapprove of the state’s trigger law, which will ban almost all abortions, new polling shows.

The Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin shows 54% of respondents said they disapprove of the trigger law, and 37% approve. The law will go into effect in the coming weeks.

The poll was conducted from June 16-24, just before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark case that established the constitutional right to an abortion.

Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project, said though the poll was conducted before the decision, the results are likely to be consistent, as other recent polls have shown.

“I don’t expect there will be a major sea change in what we saw in the data we have on abortion, particularly given the substance of the data,” he said. “Very consistently over time, only a very small share of Texans have favored making abortion completely unavailable.”

The poll, which surveyed 1,200 Texas registered voters, matched others that have revealed Gov. Greg Abbott’s lead narrowing over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke and Texans’ views that the state is on the wrong track.

Support for total abortion bans was fairly low, with 15% of respondents saying abortion should never be permitted. Of those surveyed, 26% said abortion should only be available in cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is in danger.

Abortion

“What you wind up seeing is when you give people particularly dire circumstances like the threat to a woman’s health, cases of rape, cases of incest, support really goes down for making abortion completely unavailable,” Henson said.

Governor’s race

The Texas Politics Project poll showed Abbott with a 6-point lead over O’Rourke, down from 9 in April

A June 15 Quinnipiac University poll also showed O’Rourke catching up, putting Abbott 5 points ahead among likely voters. A Dallas Morning News-University of Texas at Tyler poll in May had Abbott’s lead at 7.

election 2022

Henson said negative sentiment toward incumbents, especially in the wake of the Uvalde massacre, could be hurting Abbott’s numbers.

Of the respondents, 59% said things in Texas are headed on the wrong track, up from 51% in April and 46% in February.

Support for universal background checks to purchase a gun was high, with 78% of respondents supporting the policy, and 16% opposed.

A majority of respondents also supported raising the legal age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21, with 70% supporting the policy and 25% opposed.

Approval ratings

Though no Texas elected official in the poll had an approval rating above 45%, ratings dropped significantly for Sen. John Cornyn, the lead Republican negotiator on the most significant federal gun control legislation in years.

Cornyn’s total approval rating was 24%, down from 32% in April.

Henson said Cornyn’s work on the bill was the most likely explanation for the drop in his approval ratings.

“Cornyn’s approval decrease was so large, and it came from all partisans,” he said. “His job approval numbers have worsened among Republicans, among Independents, and though there wasn’t much room for them to get worse, they still did get a little worse among Democrats.”

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