SAN ANTONIO – After politically charged legislative sessions, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s disapproval rating has shot up among Bexar County voters, according to the latest Bexar Facts-KSAT-San Antonio Report poll.
The polling, which took place over phone and email in English and Spanish between Sept. 21 and Sept. 27, gauged the opinions of 602 Bexar County voters. Disapproval for Abbott jumped to 59%, an eight-point increase compared to the last time the survey was taken in late March.
Abbott’s disapproval was mostly among Democrats and independents, the polling showed. Of the survey respondents who identified as Democrats, 91% said they disapprove of Abbott, while 55% of independents agreed with that assessment. Only 15% of surveyed Republicans disapproved of Abbott.
The governor’s approval rating among Bexar County voters has consistently slid since the start of the pandemic when there was more political unity as officials first began mobilizing against COVID-19.
A plurality of voters also disapproved of two other statewide officials, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton. Patrick’s disapproval rating hit 45%, while Paxton’s disapproval was at 44%.
All three politicians have been critical in enacting Republican priorities during this year’s legislative sessions. Under their leadership, the Texas Legislature passed controversial laws, including constitutional carry, voting restrictions and a virtual ban on abortions.
Impact on elections
Though statewide elections will not occur until November 2022, the voters’ views of Abbott and Paxton could play into a contentious primary race.
Abbott is facing two challengers — former state senator Don Huffines and former congressman Allen West. Both have challenged the governor’s conservative credentials, alleging he has not gone far enough on Republican priorities, like securing the border and pushing back against the federal government led by President Joe Biden.
The challenges from the right may help explain why Abbott ardently pushed for new legislation in an effort to shore up support among conservatives, calling special sessions after some of his proposed laws failed to cross the finish line during the regular session earlier this year. Abbott has also banned COVID-19 vaccine mandates and mask requirements in school via executive order, responding to critics on the right who opposed those initiatives.
Like Abbott, Paxton also faces a bruising primary ahead. The attorney general, who remains under indictment on felony fraud charges, made headlines for opposing the results of the 2020 election and suing schools for mask requirements.
Paxton also saw an exodus in his office after staff members alleged he broke the law to serve a political donor.
Many of those issues have inspired a handful of Republicans to run against him, including Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman. Both have said Paxton has too many personal scandals that detract from his work at the attorney general’s office.
It remains to be seen whether the incumbents will remain in office following the primary, though both have the endorsement of former President Donald J. Trump.