UT/Texas Tribune

The latest UT/Texas Tribune Poll shows a majority of registered voters in Texas view the voter identification law favorably and continue to find border security and immigration to be the most important issues in the state.

Between Oct. 10-19, 1,200 registered voters took part in a statewide survey that asked questions ranging from their thoughts on immigration and voter identification, to their pick for the 2014 gubernatorial election.

When asked what is “the most important problem facing the state of Texas today,” 23 percent of participants said border security and 18 percent said immigration — the top responses of the poll.

James Henson, director of the University’s Texas Politics Project and co-director of the poll, said immigration and border control have consecutively been top concerns in polls. 

“If you look at the life of this poll, border security and immigration [have] pretty consistently been at the top of the list of things that the public in Texas sees as the most important problem facing the state,” Henson said. “If you drill down into the results somewhat, what you see is that this is driven primarily by the positions of Republicans that respond to these questions.” 

According to the Texas Politics Project, 60 percent of Texas voters strongly or somewhat support deporting undocumented immigrants, and 71 percent of participants strongly or somewhat support National Guard border deployment. In July, Gov. Rick Perry deployed 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to patrol the border.

With the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision to allow the state to enforce its voter ID law during this election season, the poll found 67 percent of registered voters also favored voter identification.  

“The responses to voter ID also show a lot of partisan structure,” Henson said. “What I mean by partisan structure is that people’s position on voter ID is largely driven by their party affiliation but, again, especially among Republicans.” 

Also in the poll, 43 percent of respondents said the voter ID law will have no effect on turnout, while 38 percent said it would decrease the number of people voting in the gubernatorial election.

The poll also received attention last week when it showed that Republicans had strong leads in all of the statewide races. The poll found that Attorney General Greg Abbott has a 16-point lead over State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, in the gubernatorial race. 

“The best predictor of election outcomes is typically the combination of what all the polling that’s available tells you,” Henson said. “No one poll is going to be or should be seen as a predictor of what the actual outcome will be.”

A joint UT/Texas Tribune poll released Monday shows a close gubernatorial race shaping up between Greg Abbott, the likely Republican nominee and state attorney general, and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, the likely Democratic candidate.

The poll, which is Texas’ only statewide, open-source public opinion survey, lists Abbott in the lead with 40 percent of likely voters and Davis trailing behind with 34 percent. But in the case of a three-way race between Abbott, Davis and the Libertarian gubernatorial-hopeful Kathie Glass, Glass would net 5 percent of the vote, with Abbott’s share of the vote unchanged and Davis’ totaling 35 percent, according to the study.

Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project and co-director of the poll, emphasized that he thinks it is too early to read the poll as a definitive statement about how things will turn out on election night. Discussing Glass’ effect on the election outcome, he noted that Libertarian candidates typically attract voters who would otherwise vote Republican, but it is not yet clear how much that will affect the race.

“Just how critical that effect will be will depend on how the campaigning unfolds,” Henson said.

In June, the UT/Texas Tribune poll found that 58 percent of likely voters had no opinion on Wendy Davis, compared with only 16 percent in Monday’s poll.

“When you look at the favorable and unfavorable numbers for Abbott and Davis, you see that many more people have opinions about Davis than they did in June,” Henson said. “In June, almost no one knew who she was.”