The most reliable indicator of whether a Texan thinks Donald Trump has what it takes to be president is the party that voter identifies with, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
Republicans are full of praise. Democrats are full of scorn.
Overall, more than half of Texas registered voters do not believe Trump has the temperament to be president, that he is honest and trustworthy, or that he "cares about people like you." By a narrow margin (48 percent to 46 percent), they believe he is competent; by the same margin, they said he is knowledgeable. Equal numbers said Trump is a strong leader.
"For someone who has been in the public eye for so long — even more, maybe, than even the average president — the reality is that most people have developed their attitudes towards Trump," Josh Blank, who manages polling research at the University of Texas at Austin's Texas Politics Project. "External circumstances, policy achievements or failures are only likely to make small, minor changes at this point in time."
That apparent balance in the overall numbers disappears when answers are sorted by party. More than 70 percent of Republican voters believe Trump possesses all six qualities; 83 percent of Republicans said he is competent, knowledgeable and a strong leader.
"Is there going to come a moment, particularly from the liberal point of view, when people are going to ‘see' Trump and his support is going to evaporate? There's just no evidence of that," said Jim Henson, who heads the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin and co-directs the poll. "In practical terms, if you've been worrying about how to position yourself vis-à-vis Trump, in terms of his base, there's no reason to worry."
Democratic voters lean just as strongly in the other direction, with fewer than 10 percent saying the president has the temperament for the job, is honest or empathic. The other three characteristics they were asked about — competence, leadership and knowledge — got positive marks from about one Democrat in eight.
The dividing lines are pretty clear, said Daron Shaw, a government professor at UT-Austin and co-director of the poll: "I'm a Democrat — he's bad. I'm a Republican — he's good."
Shaw said of the Democrats what Henson said of the Republicans — they don't appear likely to flip in their sentiment.
"He's not going to get Democrats. He's just not," Shaw said. But, he added: "Republicans seem to be consolidating around him."
The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Feb. 1 to Feb. 12 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.
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