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A new poll may signal surprising shifts in the political beliefs of most Texans as midterm elections near. The Dallas Morning News poll conducted in early August shows a majority of Texans want abortions to be legal and semi-automatic weapons restricted.
According to polling data, 55% of Texans believe abortions should be legal in all or most cases. That view was shared by 73% of Democrats, 64% of Independents and one third of Republicans. Just 13% of respondents said they wanted a complete and total ban on abortion.
Of the 31% who favor abortion being “illegal in most cases”, 89% favor exceptions to protect the mother’s health. In addition, 79% support exceptions for rape and incest and more than half support exceptions based on the likelihood of severe health complications for the child.
Even Texans in favor of abortion restrictions appear opposed to the state’s near total ban
Texas was one of the first states to implement a total ban on abortion following the fall of Roe. The state’s Attorney General, Ken Paxton, announced he would enforce a “trigger law” from 1925 that outlaws abortion except to protect the health of the mother. Under that law, any provider who performs an abortion could face a minimum of five years in prison.
But even Texans who support abortion restrictions seem to believe these laws are too strict.
Fewer than half of Texans (42%) support the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to the poll. Of those, 42% believe it should remain legal in Texas until the 6th week of pregnancy, while 29% believe abortion should remain legal for the first 15 weeks. Abortion-restriction supporters who favor a 15-week window include 21% of White Evangelicals and 34% of Catholics.
Attitudes on guns in Texas shifting in the wake of Uvalde massacre
It’s been nearly three months since nineteen children and two adults were massacred by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The horrific tragedy spurred passage of the first federal gun reform legislation in three decades and has prompted calls for even greater action in the state.
The same poll shows most Texans want Governor Abbott to do more to prevent gun violence. Sixty-five percent of voters say they are worried about gun violence in their community, but only 30% of voters said they believe elected officials are doing enough to prevent mass shootings.
Nearly two-thirds of Texans want Abbott to call a special legislative session to take action and reduce gun violence. That number includes 80% of Democrats, 58% of Independents and 60% of Republicans. The poll also showed broad support across racial lines, with 73% of Latino voters, 72% of Black voters and 62% of White voters wanting a special session. Legislators, mayors and school districts have all urged the Governor to do the same, but Abbott has so far refused.
When asked about potential gun reform measures, Texans showed a surprising eagerness for change.
A majority (52%) said they would favor a mandatory gun buyback program for citizens who own semi-automatic rifles. Only 42% said they opposed it. While most of the support came from Democrats, 45% of Independents and 32% of Republicans also said they would support such a move.
A proposal to increase the age limit to purchase a semi-automatic assault rifle found even stronger support. Three quarters of Texans, including 81% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans, said they support the move.
Polls could spell trouble for Greg Abbott as he seeks re-election to a third term as Governor
As a crucial midterm election nears, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has seen his once commanding lead over Beto O’Rourke shrink. Abbott, who is running for a third term, was beating O’Rourke by 15% just two months ago, but now he is only ahead by single digits.
It’s unclear whether shifts in attitudes of Texans will translate to a shift in the outcomes of this election or if the Texas Republican party will shift to better align with a changing electorate.