Greg Abbott’s Approval Rating Hits All-Time Low as COVID Rages Across Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s approval rating has dropped over the past months as he has led Republicans in the state to pursue and pass a number of restrictive and discriminatory laws over the summer.

Polling done just before the abortion ban in the state took effect by the Texas Politics Project, run by the University of Texas at Austin, finds that Abbott’s approval rating went from a net even 44 percent approval and disaspproval in June, to a net negative in the group’s most recent poll. Now, 41 percent of people polled approve of the GOP governor’s job performance, while 50 percent disapprove.

Abbot’s approval rating dropped with people across the partisan spectrum: from 8 percent to 6 percent among Democrats, 77 percent to 73 percent among Republicans and 41 percent to 30 percent among independents. According to the Texas Politics Project, Abbott’s approval rating is now the lowest it has been since he took office in 2015.

Overall, the poll found that a majority of those polled think that Texas is going in the wrong direction. While only 35 percent of those polled believe the state is going in the right direction, 52 percent believe it’s on the wrong track.

Part of the reason for Abbott’s declining approval rating and the pessimism over the state’s direction may be due to the pandemic, said the executive director of the Texas Politics Project. “This is really an eye-opener for us,” Jim Henson told KXAN.

The poll found that Texans generally disapprove of Abbott’s handling of the pandemic, with his approval ratings on the issue reaching the lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020. Only 39 percent of those polled approved of how Abbott has handled the COVID pandemic in his state, while 53 percent disapproved.

Over the past months, the Delta variant of COVID-19 has surged across Texas. Case rates in Texas and across the country appear to be flattening, but the state has some of the highest rates for infections and deaths. Texas also has a relatively low vaccination rate, with only 48 percent of adults fully vaccinated to date.

Part of the reason for the high case counts, especially in recent weeks, is Abbott’s insistence in not taking the necessary measures to stop the spread of the virus. In fact, he has moved against the recommendations of public health experts and ordered a ban on mask mandates from government entities, which has almost certainly contributed to a surge in cases among children as schools have returned to in-person classes.

The mask mandate ban is also unpopular, according to the Texas Politics Project poll. Forty-one percent of those polled support it, while 45 percent are opposed.

Though the poll was conducted before the state’s abortion ban went into effect, Texas Republicans have been working for months to suppress voters and implement other radical right-wing measures across the state.

Republicans’ recent voter suppression bill, for instance, makes it harder for Black and brown people and people with disabilities to vote. The GOP has also been working on a number of bigoted anti-trans laws aimed at making it harder for transgender children and adults to survive in the state.