Opinion Columns & Blogs - INACTIVE

Want to know why Texas will remain red after the election? CBS poll offers clues

Ballots have already been received by Texans who vote by mail, and everyone can cast theirs in just over a week from now when early voting begins Oct. 22.

The big Texas edition of the latest CBS News Battleground Tracker poll provides significant insight into what is motivating voters as we anticipate the outcome of the most consequential midterm elections in decades.

There are 67 pages of detailed results CBS has gathered as the news network delved deeply into what voters say, ranging from which candidates they prefer to issues important to them and how they view their own personal financial and lifestyle affairs.

Ted Cruz, Beto O’Rourke
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (left) and U.S. Rep Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso. Robin Jerstad: Cruz/Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson: O'Rourke

When you get beyond the headline results that have U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz leading U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Texas remaining a Republican stronghold, there are reasons behind those projected outcomes that tell us why.

On the question of rating the state of the economy — always a principal reason for the way voters behave — the older you are, the better you feel about it.

A majority of voters 65 and older say it is “very good,” while just a fourth of voters between 18-29 agree with that choice of how to describe the economy.

When adding the “somewhat good” option to the question, the combination of the two categories muster more than 80 percent agreement across all age groups.

Some 91 percent of Republican voters express support for the state of the economy and even 76 percent of Democrats agree with them.

When asked how overall satisfied respondents are with “the way things are going in the U.S. right now,” there is a 50/50 split between those who are very satisfied and somewhat satisfied versus those somewhat and very dissatisfied.

Again, satisfied Republicans offset dissatisfied Democrats by a margin of 85 percent to 82 percent.

A companion question asked of likely voters was about what would motivate them the most when they finally cast their ballots.

The “direction of the country” won a clear majority of the reasons offered.

When specifics of what makes up the definition of that generalized term are addressed, Republicans hold the edge in almost every category.

Healthcare worries are another top issue with more than 80 percent of respondents saying they had either “a lot” or “some” concern about everyone being covered. Predictably, 97 percent of voters said “keeping costs down” was a major concern.

Republican voters said they intended to help their party keep control of the Senate led by a margin of 10 percent over Democrats who said their vote would help their party gain control of the upper chamber.

Some 61 percent of voters said the matter of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has made them more motivated to go out and vote.

Interestingly, a majority of voters said his confirmation would not change how they were already planning to vote, but they are now apparently more determined to show up.

Another top issue important to voters is that of illegal immigration. A full 63 percent said it is a “big problem” while only 12 percent rated it as “not a problem.”

As is the issue of guns. Three-quarters of voters say candidates must agree with them to win their support on the questions surrounding gun ownership.

Not surprisingly, more than 70 percent say the same thing when asked about taxes.

Finally, voters by a 73 percent majority say their choice for the Senate seat will be focused on national issues and the direction of the country as opposed to what is happening locally and statewide.

How will all of this play out as the election reaches a conclusion? CBS says its poll represents a 95 percent confidence level in predicting the outcome.

If the findings do indeed prove correct, look for lots of Texas red on election night news coverage.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor, served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency and lectures at UT Arlington.
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