April 26, 2020
Texas Poll Finds Strong Support for Abbott Virus Calls
as Patrick Stock Drops with Seniors and Independents
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
Governor Greg Abbott received a glowing review from Texas voters for his performance in the coronavirus crisis in a poll that's a stinging rebuke to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and other conservatives who've been demanding an immediate end to restrictions that have been in place for almost a month.
The survey that the University of Texas conducted in a partnership with the Texas Tribune found that three out of every four voters or more backed the Abbott orders that have confined Texans in their homes with limited exceptions, prohibited public gatherings with more than 10 people and compelled churches to start holding worship services online.
More than 80 percent gave the Republican governor a thumbs up for the closing of Texas schools for the spring and the summer, mandates for moratoriums and quarantines for incoming travelers and the authorization of makeshift facilities for emergency cases in the event of shortages at existing hospitals.
Sixty-six of the respondents in the poll agreed with Abbott's decision that temporarily shuttered businesses that he didn't deem as essential as a major component in a series of executive orders that he implemented in March.
The survey of 1,200 voters was in the field for nine days before wrapping up last weekend. Abbott allowed retail establishments to reopen for sales to go while giving state parks the green light to start letting visitors return as long as they abide by social distancing principles that have become a mainstay of society here in the past six weeks.
Abbott has stayed a relatively cautious course despite calls from the hard right for a return to business without further delay. But the governor has indicated that he has a more expansive plan for the next phase of a gradual return to business as normal in the Lone Star State.
Voters were less enthusiastic about an executive directive that postponed the primary runoff election to mid-July and a now-defunct Abbott order that banned abortions in Texas for several weeks after declaring them to be nonessential services that would compete for limited health resources that are needed for pandemic patients. Fifty-five percent favored the delay of the overtime vote while only 48 percent endorsed the temporary abortion prohibition that sparked a ferocious legal challenge. .
The survey found that Patrick had hurt himself with older voters and independents with a claim on national television that senior citizens would be ready to die as a sacrifice for a resurrected economy. But the poll had been conducted before Patrick escalated the pitch for full-scale reopening without delay in a follow-up interview on Fox News last week.