Texas Republicans split over Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial

GOP and conservative voters polled just before the beginning of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial indicated a divide of opinion on the efficacy of the charges against the state official — and a large number that does not know enough to provide an opinion.

The poll conducted by the Texas Politics Project, a program associated with the University of Texas at Austin, gauged voters’ outlook on the historic impeachment proceedings against Paxton.

Conducted from August 19-28 and surveying 1,200 registered voters in Texas, 47 percent of respondents agreed that Paxton “took actions while attorney general that justify removing him from elected office” — while 18 percent said no, and 35 percent were unsure.

Broken down by party affiliation, nearly three-fourths of Democrats said yes compared with 24 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of independents. Compare that to 32 percent of Republicans and 14 percent of Independents who disagreed; 44 percent of Independents and 43 percent of Republicans said they were unsure.

Asked whether the impeachment by the House was justified, 28 percent of Republicans said yes, compared with 33 percent who said no and 39 percent who were unsure.

The survey further breaks down the Republican and conservative demographics. Those who say they’re a “not very strong Republican” registered at 46 percent who deem the impeachment justified, while “lean Republican” and “strong Republicans” leaned more heavily toward saying it’s unjustified.

Among conservatives, those who lean conservative registered the largest percentage of those who believe it is justified, while those who are “extremely conservative” post the largest percentage of those who say it’s unjustified — both at 44 percent, respectively.

But in each question and each subcategory, a large number of respondents say they either don’t know or have no opinion.

Both a larger subset of Republicans and conservatives believe the impeachment is “based on politics” rather than “based on the facts,” but the whole sample leans more heavily toward the latter with only 28 percent saying the proceeding is political more than factual and 25 percent saying they are unsure.

Among Republicans, Paxton’s job approval rating has fallen to 46 percent, down from 73 percent at the end of 2022; self-identified conservative respondents indicate a nearly identical dynamic.

One of the defense’s key arguments in this trial was the “forgiveness doctrine” — the supposition that Paxton cannot be impeached for charges that preceded his last election because voters re-elected him anyway. Part of that argument is that voters knew of the allegations and chose to ignore them. 

Asked how much they’ve heard about the allegations against Paxton, one-third said either “not very much” or “nothing at all.” Those who’ve heard “some” made up a 39 percent plurality, while 28 percent said they’ve heard a lot.

This polling, with so many showing either little knowledge about the whole affair or uncertainty about it overall, illustrates a chink in the armor of the forgiveness doctrine argument in the world of public opinion — and that excludes the legal arguments and precedent on the issue which, if anything, leans in favor of the prosecution.

And that supposition by the defense, that voters forgave Paxton on all but one of the charges, was shrugged off by Senators on Tuesday by a 22 to 8 vote.

After gaveling in, the Texas Senate’s court of impeachment first addressed two dozen motions by the defense before even fielding opening arguments or witness testimony.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post