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Texas voters split on police violence protests, open to moving Confederate statues, poll finds

Texas voters split on police violence protests, open to moving Confederate statues, poll finds
  • PublishedJuly 7, 2020

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The 1903 Confederate monument at the south entrance to the state Capitol grounds. Photo credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune


Long-held views on the discrimination against Black people and on memorials to the Confederacy are changing in Texas in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis police custody and the protests that followed, according to polling by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.

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Texas registered voters’ opinions are split on the protests that followed Floyd’s death: 43% approve and 44% disapprove. Most voters younger than 29 (68%) approve of the protests, a view shared by 50% of voters between 30 and 44, 46% of the 45-64 set and 31% of voters aged 65 and older. While 46% of women have favorable opinions of those protests, 38% of men do. Only 38% of white voters approve, while 69% of Black voters. Hispanic voters split, with 40% holding favorable opinions and 40% holding unfavorable ones.

Most Black voters (51%) say they have been treated unfairly by police because of their race or ethnicity, an experience shared by 29% of Hispanic voters in the survey, 18% of Asian voters and 11% of white voters.

The police are viewed favorably by 55% of Texas voters, unfavorably by 30%. The favorable sentiment reached a high point in previous UT polls in February 2017, at 64%. The unfavorable opinions have risen from a low of 18% in that same February 2017 survey.

The deaths of Black people in encounters with police, according to 49% of Texas voters are “a sign of broader problems in the treatment of African Americans by police,” while 43% say those are “isolated incidents.” Among Black voters, 82% say it’s a sign of broader problems; 56% of Asian voters, 47% of Hispanic voters and 43% of white voters agree. Half of white voters say those were isolated incidents.

Texas voters are divided on the Black Lives Matter movement, but more approve of BLM now than in the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll taken before the 2016 presidential election. In the current survey, 42% have favorable views of Black Lives Matter, while 43% have unfavorable opinions of it; in October 2016, the split was a much more negative 28-54.

Black people (71%), transgender people (73%), Muslims (70%), gay and lesbian people (67%) and Hispanic people (65%) are most likely to be discriminated against “a lot” or “some,” according to Texas registered voters. Sixty-one percent say women are discriminated against; men and white people are least likely to be discriminated against, according to the respondents.

Overall, 35% of Texas registered voters say they have felt physically threatened because of their race or ethnicity, while 48% of Black people say so, 35% of Hispanic people and 30% of white people. Asked whether they have been denied a job they were qualified for because of discrimination, 41% of Black voters, 37% of Asian voters and 27% of Hispanic voters say so; only 18% of white voters say so.

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In October 2017, more than half of Texas voters thought Confederate statues and monuments should remain where they are — 34% just as they are and another 22% with “historical context provided.” Public opinion has flipped, with most believing they should either be removed from public view (20%) or “moved to a museum or other site where they can be presented in historical context (32%). A slight majority of white voters (53%) would leave the monuments in place, while majorities of Black voters (82%) and Hispanic voters (54%) would move them.

Voting by mail

Most Texans say they would vote in person — either early (42%) or on election day (21%) — even if all Texans were allowed to vote by mail in the November general election. Almost a third (32%) say they would vote by mail if they were allowed. And a slight majority (52%) said they would favor allowing all Texans to vote by mail in the upcoming November election because of the pandemic.

A slight majority of Texas registered voters (51%) say that the state’s election system does not discriminate based on race or ethnicity. Among Black voters, 63% say the system discriminates, while only 31% of white voters say so. Hispanic voters split, with 42% saying the system discriminates and 46% saying it doesn’t.

The University of Texas/Texas Politics Project internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from June 19 to June 29 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83% percentage points.

Article by Ross Ramsey,

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