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February 14, 2020

New Poll Finds Trump on Thin Texas Ice
as Sanders Leads Democratic Opponents

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

More than half of the voters who participated in the latest Texas poll indicated that they would not vote for President Donald Trump when he's on the ballot for a second term in the 2020 general election.

The survey that the University of Texas conducted here this month in a partnership with the Texas Tribune found Bernie Sanders vaulting to the front of the pack of Democratic presidential contenders in the Lone Star State where Joe Biden had been running first in all of the other polls that had been conducted here in the past year.

Sanders had support from 24 percent of the Democratic voters who participated in the poll that the University of Texas conducted here this month in a partnership with the Texas Tribune. Biden was a close second in the UT-Texas Tribune survey with 22 percent while U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were favored by 15 percent respectively.

Pete Buttigieg of Indiana and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota - the Democrats who finished second and third behind Sanders in the New Hampshire primary election this week - had 7 percent and 3 percent support respectively in the UT-TT survey of 1,200 registered voters over the course of a nine-day period that ended on Sunday.

Texas voters will be casting ballots soon with the Super Tuesday primary election set for March 3.

While 52 percent of the voters in the new survey sample said they will not be backing Trump for re-election this fall, the president had small leads over a handful of potential Democratic challengers in hypothetical general election pairings that the pollsters sought to gauge.

The UT-TT poll found Sanders to be the incumbent's most serious threat in Texas where Trump had a two-point lead over the U.S. senator from Vermont with support from 47 percent of the voters in the sample here. Trump led Warren by a mere 3 points in the new poll that found the president up on Biden here by 4 in a potential clash in November. Trump had five-point advantages over Bloomberg, Buttigieg and Klobuchar in possible general election matchups in Texas - a state that he has to win for a shot at four more years in the White House.

The new numbers are a bad sign for Trump, who claimed more than 52 percent of the Texas vote in 2016 when he beat Democrat Hillary Clinton here by 9 percentage points.

"The Trump trial ballots confirm what we’ve seen, that Trump is winning, but he clearly is under-performing, given the party profile in the state," the poll's co-director Daron Shaw said. "It is interesting when you put a flesh and blood Democrat up there, it drops that number, but here’s a Republican in a Republican state who’s not at 50%, which is a sign of weakness."

Biden's support only fell by one point in the new poll compared to a UT-TT survey in October when the former vice president was favored by 23 percent of the Democratic voters here. But Sanders had twice as many Texans in his corner in the new poll than he'd had last fall.

James Henson, the Texas Politics Project director at the state's flagship university, suggested that Biden had been ahead in the polls here until now as a result of superior name identification.

The new Texas poll reflects national Democratic voter sentiment with Sanders as the new frontrunner after a narrow win in New Hampshire after finishing in a virtual tie with Buttigieg in the Iowa Caucuses two weeks ago.

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