Current Texas Political Thought

Republicans support same-sex unions? Really?

Texas Lyceum tried to gauge what we'll do when we visit this thing again
Texas Lyceum tried to gauge what we'll do when we visit this thing again (photo by John Anderson)

Rick Perry outpolled Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texans support voter ID, Republicans support gay unions, Democrats lack a … wait, whoa, back up, what?!?

Yeah, buried among all sorts of opinion data on the economy and political candidates in the latest edition of the Texas Lyceum Poll, that gay unions thing certainly jumped out and made our jaws drop. But if their numbers (taken from interviews with 860 Texas adults) are accurate, not only are a majority of Texans (58%) okay with some form of gay unions, but a slim majority (51%) who identify with the party that has bashed on homosexuals the most say they favor either civil unions or same-sex marriage.

Sure, the GOP still has stronger anti-gay trends than independents or Democrats – 43% percent oppose any sort of legal gay unions, and those willing to allow them are two and a half times more likely to go for civil unions than outright marriage. Still … a majority? Really? Could this possibly signal an end to this controversy as a wedge issue?

But that was only one question among many in the poll.

As for the current state of the 2010 political horse races, the only thing that can really be gleaned is: It’s early yet. While 33% of respondents intending to vote in the Republican primary favor incumbent Gov. Rick Perry versus 21% who lean toward presumed challenger Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the more important number is the 45% who remain undecided.

The Democratic primary is even more wide-open: While entertainer Kinky Friedman leads gubernatorial options, it’s at a paltry 10%. He’s trailed by former Bush administration ambassador Tom Schieffer at 6% and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio at 3%. (Van de Putte said yesterday that she is not interested in the race, but tried to convince Austin state Sen. Kirk Watson to run; Watson was noncommittal.) A whopping 81% were undecided.

Among all Texans, 57% said they approve of Perry’s job performance vs. 65% approving of Hutchison.

If Hutchison resigns to challenge Perry, that would necessitate a special election to replace her. Seventy-one percent didn’t register a preference among the six Republicans and two Democrats currently saying they might be interested in moving to Washington; of those who have, Democratic Houston Mayor Bill White leads at a mere 9%, ahead of Attorney General Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, state Sen. Florence Shapiro, former Comptroller John Sharp (the other Dem), and Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams.

One issue that could loom large in 2010: While Dem legislators fought tooth-and-nail to derail bills this session that would have required citizens to present a photo ID to vote, Lyceum’s data shows solid support across the board for it, even among Democrats (58%) and minorities, groups that would supposedly be hurt by such a requirement. Expect Republicans to hammer on this in the general election.

Also worth noting: 58% of Texans approve of President Obama’s job performance.

Forty six percent of respondents identified as independents vs. 25% Republicans and 28% Democrats; 46% said they were conservative, while 35% claimed to be moderate and 19% liberal.

Almost half (49%) said they usually vote; 24% said they haven’t voted in an election “over the last two or three years.”

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Elections, Election 2010, Texas Lyceum, Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchison, gay marriage, same-sex marriage

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