DALLAS - A just-released survey of voters sheds light on the most important issues as Texans enter the second week of early voting.
Polls were closed Monday in honor of Presidents' Day but are open Tuesday morning, which will mark one week before the March 1 primary.
There was nothing shocking in terms of the most important issue for voters, especially those in the Republican primary. But when it comes to how Texans feel about fairness and accuracy of vote counting in this election, the replies might not be what you would expect considering we've heard so much about election integrity in Texas.
"Seventy percent of the electorate thinks their vote is going to be counted. That’s 77 % among Democrats. 69% among Republicans, and I think independents are waiting to see," explained UT Tyler Political Science Professor Mark Owens.
UT Tyler conducted the voter survey for the school and Dallas Morning News.
The number one issue among likely Republican primary voters is border security.
"Even when you ask it related to the electricity grid, Republicans still think it’s more important than securing the grid they think. It’s more important than regulations related to the coronavirus as well, and so Democrats show the opposite side," Owens said.
"But the message of more border security is a message for November voters as well, and it's someplace where Gov. Abbott ranks much higher than Joe Biden," said Dr. Mark P. Jones with Rice University’s Baker Institute.
Gov. Abbott has a 50% approval rating among both Democrats and Republicans on border security.
President Joe Biden's rating on that key issue is 31%.
"The Republican Party is the most trusted party," Owens said. "But there’s not a majority of voters who trust the Republican Party to deal with issues related to race."
Eighty percent of Democrats think critical race theory should be taught in public K-12 schools. Only 40% of Republican respondents agree.
"In the primary, the key is red meat for the base at least in the current circumstances," Jones said. "Once you win the Republican primary statewide, that’s pretty much a ticket to election in November."
Jones says what average voters think is of no concern right now to the state's GOP majority.
"They care what the average Texas Republican primary voter thinks, and they want to see strong opposition to critical race theory," he said.
Jones expects less talk on issues like CRT and election integrity after the primaries.
"And a greater focus on the deficiencies in the minds of Republicans on the Biden administration and on border security areas where they know they have a winning message. Overall, is the political direction of Texas going the right way," he said. "We see that split with 50% of the people saying yes it is on the right track and then 40% thinking that it needs some more help."
The sample was taken Feb. 8-15 of 1,188 registered voters who said they were likely to vote in the primary.