The most recent poll from the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin reveals a state electorate that doesn't know it's own mind--until the subject turns to economic issues.
The first big news from the poll was that Texans by a margin of more than 3 to 1 support red flag laws and background checks. A majority even support a ban on assault rifles. It would seem, then, that Sen. John Cornyn, who was key to passing the modest gun control legislation in Congress, might benefit from such numbers.
But no. “Cornyn’s job approval numbers cratered,” Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project, told the Houston Chronicle. “I don’t ever recall ever seeing a drop as severe in such a short amount of time as we saw Cornyn drop between April and June.”
The senator's approval rating is only 24 percent--11 points lower than President Biden's. In previous polling, Cornyn, whose profile in the state is lower than that of his scene-stealing Republican colleagues, had an approval rating of 32 percent.
To his credit, he is standing by his work on gun control. “This was fundamentally important to the country at a time when things are so polarized,” Cornyn said. “I thought it was really important to demonstrate that the Senate could work.”
Meanwhile, other Republican statewide officeholders whose actions have brought national ridicule to the state, have fared much better. But here again the evidence is puzzling: Not one of these officeholders reaches 50 percent in the poll.
Governor Greg Abbott, whose relentless focus on border issues still resonates with voters in the state, has a favorable rating of 43 percent, 6 points higher than that of his opponent, Beto O'Rourke. But...Abbott's disapproval rating among Independents has now risen to 55 percent.
As controversial as Abbott has been, the approval ratings for his colleagues are worse: Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, a far right lightning rod, sits at 35 percent; Ted Cruz is at 41 percent; Ken Paxton, the legally challenged Attorney General, is at 34 percent, still 10 points higher than Cornyn, the man who has actually tried to do something for the state and nation.
The fact is that Texans, like most Americans, are fed up with the misery and complexity of politics in the country today. And, like their fellow Americans, they are afraid. Chaos abounds and prices are higher than they've been in decades.
The poll shows 59 percent of Texans believe the state is heading in the wrong direction, the highest percentage ever recorded in the poll.
“That is driven almost predominately by economic readings, because all of the economic indicators are as negative as we’ve seen them,” Henson told the Chronicle. “I do think there is a general dissatisfaction (about guns and abortion) that is feeding into it all.”
Although the poll was taken before the Dobbs ruling that overturned Roe, the surest thing amid the flotsam of uncertainty is that the economy is scaring people the most right now. For now, and probably in November, the sinking, scrambling, and often incompetent Republican leadership in the state will survive.