Newswise — If the election for Texas governor were held today, a majority of Texans would pick Greg Abbott, according to a poll of voting-age Texans conducted by undergraduate students at the Earl Survey Research Lab at Texas Tech University.

However, researchers found that very few Texas voters had problems with the voter photo ID laws, and more Texans have changed their minds in favor of gay marriage since last year.

In step with Texas’ strong Republican leanings, 54 percent of those polled said they’d vote for Abbott, while 25 percent said they’d vote for Wendy Davis. Six percent said they were voting for some other party, while 15 percent still had to decide.

In a statewide telephone survey, students queried more than 454 registered Texas residents of voting age from March 6 to April 3. In the survey, 41 percent of voters classified themselves as Republicans, 17 percent said they were Democrats, 31 percent said they were independents and 9 percent claimed some other party. Results were released during a news conference Thursday (April 17).

“Texas remains a conservative state, and the overwhelming majority of citizens consider themselves Republicans,” said Mark McKenzie, associate professor of political science who instructs the class that did the survey. “For Democrats to stand a chance of carrying Texas, 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 the part of the Democrats.”

On the other hand, McKenzie said, even though Texas remains a conservative state, attitudes about gay marriage have changed in Texas during the last year.

“In the past, support for gay marriage in this state was below 40 percent,” he said. “Now, were closely divided on the issue. 48 percent of Texans think gay marriage should be recognized whereas 47 percent are against. Democrats and Independents strongly support gay marriage, while Republicans are strongly opposed to it.”

And despite the controversy swirling around Texas’ voter photo ID law, McKenzie said researchers had trouble finding anyone who had problems with their photo ID. Of those polled, 97 percent said they had no problems having to show a photo ID at the polls.

Also, a majority of Texans believe illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship (56 percent) as opposed to be required to leave (22 percent). Texans support for pathways to citizenship are similar to what the nation as a whole believes on this issue.

Sen. Ted Cruz received a 51 percent approval rating, Gov. Rick Perry had a 62 percent approval rating and Sen. John Cornyn received 46 percent approval.

Texans’ opinion of President Barack Obama has dwindled to only 23 percent approve of the administration. Nationwide, the president’s job approval rating currently sits at about 43 percent, according to Gallup. The 2010 Affordable Care Act received 73 percent disapproval. 75 percent thought the nation is going in the wrong direction.

On other issues, Texans:

• Largely approved of the Tea Party movement (44 percent).

• Believed the Voter ID laws are mainly used to prevent fraud (77 percent).

• Thought the NSA’s mass collection of telephone numbers violated peoples’ privacy rights (55 percent) rather than was necessary to fight terrorism (38 percent).The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percent.

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. For more information, visit

For a copy of the report, contact John Davis.

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