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Poll: Paxton impeachment, school choice not top concerns for primary voters

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(The Center Square) – Neither the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton nor school choice are motivating factors for Republicans to cast their votes this primary election, a University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll found.

Its findings appear to contradict the findings of a University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs poll conducted around the same time.

How Republican state House representatives voted on impeachment and school choice are key issues cited by state leaders in their endorsements of candidates. Paxton has endorsed challengers to incumbents who voted to impeach him. Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed candidates he says support school choice.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan have endorsed some candidates, which in several races appear to contradict each other across both issues. Former President Donald Trump also has weighed in on Texas races, endorsing one of Phelan’s challengers.

One key takeaway from the UT/TPP poll is “Vouchers [school choice] and the Paxton impeachment are not on their minds,” Jim Henson, executive director of The Texas Politics Project, said in a statement.

The issues of border security and supporting Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star, are top priorities for all voters, according to the poll, including among Hispanics, Blacks, and even some Democrats.

“Republican voters’ preoccupation with the border and immigration,” Henson argues, makes it “hard to get them to focus on other issues.”

“Gov. Abbott’s intervention in Texas House primaries has targeted members who voted against his favored school choice bill, while Attorney General Paxton’s efforts have been straightforwardly motivated by a desire to punish House members who voted to impeach him last year. These issues may be important for these two leaders, but it’s not top of mind for primary voters,” he added.

According to those polled, only 2% of Republican voters said school choice, or a related issue, was important to them or an important factor for their vote.

“Not a single voter mentioned the Paxton impeachment,” Henson said.

Among “strong Republicans” polled, 39% said the impeachment was not justified; 23% said it was, according to the UT/TPP poll.

A University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs poll of Republican voters found the opposite to be true. The majority of Republican primary voters surveyed, 60%, said they would be less likely to vote for an incumbent state representative who voted against school choice bills last year. Only 16% said they were more likely to vote for an incumbent who opposes school choice.

The UH/Hobby poll also found that among Republican primary voters, 46% said they were less likely to vote for an incumbent in the Texas House who voted to impeach Paxton, 23% said they were.

Both polls arrived at similar conclusions that only a few politicians’ endorsements matter to a majority of Republican primary voters: former president Donald Trump’s, Abbott’s and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s.

There are 13 propositions on the Republican primary ballot covering a range of issues, including property taxes, border security, the Texas National Guard, election integrity and school choice, among others.

All 150 state representative seats are up for grabs, with more than 20% of candidates running unopposed.

Multiple candidates are running for 15 Texas Senate seats.

Trump is also expected to win the Republican primary election in Texas. President Joe Biden is expected to win the Democrat primary election.

Early voting is underway. Republican and Democrat primary elections are on March 5.

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