Undergraduate Students Find Texans Staying True to Republican Sentiments Through Recent Earl Survey Telephone Inquiry

Statistics show Democrats have hard battle to win Texas.

In spite of near-record turnouts in Texas’ March Democratic Party primary, the state’s voters appear unwilling to move away from their Republican leanings when it comes to actually choosing a president, according to a poll of voting-age Texans by undergraduate students at the Earl Survey Research Lab at Texas Tech University.

Students queried 507 voting-age Texans, 483 of whom said they are registered to vote, in a statewide telephone survey from March 25 through April 14. In the survey, 45 percent of voters classified themselves as Republicans, 24 percent said they were Democrats and 21 percent said they were independents.

"Texas remains a conservative state, and the overwhelming majority of citizens consider themselves Republicans," said Alan Arwine, visiting assistant professor of political science who instructs the class that did the survey. "For Democrats to stand a chance of carrying Texas in the fall, they either must convince Texans to switch their party loyalties or capture all independent and Democratic voters. There is absolutely no room for error on part of the Democrats."

The survey found that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain holds comfortable leads over Democratic opponents Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In head-to-head match-ups, McCain leads Clinton with 59 percent of the vote to her 30 percent, and leads Obama 58 percent to 29 percent.

Men and women support McCain in the head-to-head match-ups, capturing more than 65 percent of the white voters in the state. Obama, when matched up against McCain, captures 93 percent of the black vote, but breaks even with the Republican among Hispanic citizens. Clinton captures 72 percent of black voters when matched against McCain, but carries 60 percent of the Hispanic vote.

"The presidential horserace questions tell us that Democrats have a long and difficult road ahead of them if they hope to carry Texas in the fall,’’ Arwine said. "Texans today appear reluctant to alter recent history and support a Democrat in the fall election."

Texans hold a higher opinion of President George W. Bush than do citizens on average across the rest of the country, the survey states. Texans’ approval rating is 42 percent, while nationwide, the president’s job approval rating sits at about 30 percent.

On other issues, Texans:

• were divided on whether illegal or undocumented immigrants should be allowed to send their children to school and on whether children of illegal immigrants who are born in the United states should receive automatic citizenship.

• said job opportunities in the state are good.

• were split on who to blame for rising gasoline prices, with Democrats placing more blame at President Bush’s feet while Republicans were more likely to blame oil companies and foreign oil producers.

• seem to be reluctant to support an immediate troop withdrawal in Iraq, with 57 percent believing troops should stay until the country is stabilized.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent, meaning that 95 percent of the time, results would fall within +/- 4 points from what would be obtained by interviewing all adult Texans.

The survey is conducted each semester by political science majors in the department’s undergraduate research methods course and is administered at the lab by the Department of Political Science.

CONTACT: Alan Arwine, visiting assistant professor, Department of Political
Science, Texas Tech University, (806) 742- 4051, or alan.arwine@ttu.edu.