Exclusive poll: Amid COVID-19, Gov. Abbott’s approval rating is higher than Pres. Trump’s in Texas

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has a higher approval rating in Texas, compared to President Donald Trump, according to a new Nexstar/Emerson College poll.

A total of 53.8% of Texans surveyed approved of how Abbott is doing as governor, with 32.1% disapproving and 14.1% remaining neutral or not having an opinion.

Nexstar Media/Emerson College Poll conducted March 8-10, 2020
Nexstar Media/Emerson College Poll conducted March 8-10, 2020

Meanwhile, Trump’s approval rating is 45.8%, with 43.9% disapproving and 10.3% neutral or having no opinion.

Nexstar Media/Emerson College Poll conducted March 8-10, 2020

“What’s interesting about Governor Abbott and frankly, all of the governors across the country is in our polling, we see they have a stronger approval than the president,” said Spencer Kimball, an assistant professor at Emerson College who heads up Emerson College Polling “I think part of that has to do with how the federal government has responded to the crisis.”

“At a moment of crisis, the people in their state are turning to their governors like we see in New York, we’re seeing in Ohio, we see in California, so it’s not a surprise in Texas that people are looking towards Governor Abbott for leadership, and they’re finding that leadership,” said Kimball, who leads the team that conducted the polling.

James Dickey, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, said the president and governor have listened to the needs of Texans during the COVID-19 pandemic and responded accordingly.

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 07: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) speaks to reporters while hosting Texas Governor Greg Abbott about what his state has done to restart business during the novel coronavirus pandemic in the Oval Office at the White House May 07, 2020 in Washington, DC. Abbott’s approval rating is 54% during the pandemic and Trump’s is 46%, according to a Nexstar Media Group/Emerson College poll released on May 11, 2020. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

“President Trump has really cared about how the average American, the average Texan, is impacted by this,” Dickey said, “and President Trump’s meeting with Governor Abbott just a couple of days ago was yet another good sign about how important Texas is to everyone in the United States.”

The Texas Democratic Party disputes the notion that Republican leadership has met the challenge.

“The Governor has mismanaged this response,” TDP executive director Manny Garcia said. “He’s been unclear on his orders, he has ignored his own guidelines and his own orders multiple times, and it seems like he is taking his approach from Washington, D.C., indirectly from Donald Trump and whatever Donald Trump wants, that’s what Greg Abbott is going to deliver.”

Who would win today?

In the presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee. if the election were held today between Biden and Trump, 47% of Texans polled said they would vote for Trump against 41% supporting Biden, but 61% of undecided voters surveyed indicated they would lean towards Biden as their pick.

Nexstar Media/Emerson College Poll conducted March 8-10, 2020
Nexstar Media/Emerson College Poll conducted March 8-10, 2020

“This is a battleground race. This is a battleground state,” Garcia said. “And it’s going to be critically important that we build up our operation now, that we put our foot on the gas and we make sure that we hold Donald Trump accountable.”

Dickey, meanwhile, suspects Biden will have a tough time touting his lengthy political career because “the average independent voter cannot name a single thing Biden has done.”

“He hasn’t had to go head to head against President yet, and once he does his deficiencies will be plainly obvious,” Dickey said.

November predictions

The poll also revealed regardless of who they vote for, 60.6% of Texans surveyed indicated they expected Trump to win in November.

Nexstar Media/Emerson College Poll conducted March 8-10, 2020
Nexstar Media/Emerson College Poll conducted March 8-10, 2020

“A lot of Joe Biden’s candidacy to get that nomination was that he was the most electable candidate,” pollster Kimball said. “Now that we are in the race, people are beginning to question — can he be elected?”

What’s are voters’ top issues?

As for the issue that was the single most important topic to determine their vote, 31.6% of those polled said the economy was top priority. Removing Trump from office secured 22.2%, followed by health care at 15.6% and reelecting Trump at 15.1%. Immigration clocked in at 4.9% and 10.5% of Texas voters surveyed said something else was their most pressing issue.

Nexstar Media/Emerson College Poll conducted March 8-10, 2020
Nexstar Media/Emerson College Poll conducted March 8-10, 2020

“The economy has always been the top priority,” Dickey said. “And Republican leadership and principles have produced the most successful economy on record in the United States and in Texas.”

Garcia said healthcare remains a top priority for the state’s Democrats.

“In this response, what we have seen, in this pandemic, what we have seen is that healthcare is critical for people, that jobs are critical for people. Unemployment is skyrocketing,” Garcia said. “Millions of people are seeking jobs. They need a government that is responsive to their needs and understand the daily lives that we’re going through.”

Poll information

Pollsters were in the field Friday through Sunday and included 800 people in the survey through a combination of phone interviews and online responses. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4%. Of those who participated, 28.7% identified as Democrat, 38.0% identified as Republican and 33.3% identified as independent or other. The poll was conducted in the greater metropolitan areas of Austin, Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio and El Paso.

The poll also revealed Texans are more enthusiastic about President Trump than Joe Biden and their thoughts about Biden’s running mate and the Tara Reade accusations. It also showed Texans are reserved about returning to life as normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses begin to reopen across the state.

The same poll was also conducted in Ohio and California. According to the Ohio Nexstar/Emerson poll results, Ohioans overwhelmingly approve of Gov. DeWine’s  leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, but are split on President Trump. If the presidential election was held today, a slim majority of Ohioans polled said they would cast their vote for Trump.

Meanwhile, the California poll showed Californians are not ready for things to go back to normal amid the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump’s overall approval rating is low among Californians who also say they don’t believe the federal government has done enough to help the state during the coronavirus pandemic. When it comes to the presidential election, the poll shows Californians will vote for Democratic candidate Joe Biden but they aren’t very excited about it.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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