Lyceum Poll: Texans Full of Surprises

Texans may be learning to love their gays – not as much as their voter ID, though

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

Yes, buried among all sorts of opinion data on the economy and political candidates in the latest edition of the Texas Lyceum Poll's executive summary, that gay unions thing certainly jumped out and made our jaws drop. And if the poll's numbers (taken from interviews with 860 Texas adults) are accurate, not only are 57% of Texans OK with some form of gay union, 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% oppose any sort of legal gay union, 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?

That was only one question among many prompted by the poll. As for the current state of the 2010 political horse races, the only thing that really can be gleaned is: It's early yet. While 33% of respondents intending to vote in the Republican primary favor incumbent Gov. Perry vs. 21% who lean toward presumed challenger Sen. 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, his support stands at a paltry 10%, 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 last week that she's not interested in the race and 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, while 65% approve of Hutchison.

If Hutchison resigns to challenge Perry, that would necessitate a special election to replace her; 71% 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 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: 68% of Texans approve of President Obama's job performance; 46% identified as independents vs. 25% as Republicans and 28% as 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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Lyceum Poll, Texas Lyceum, Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchison, gay marriage, same-sex marriage

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