Bastrop County delegate Mike Norman took a selfie with a photo of Donald Trump at the Texas Republican Convention May 13 in Dallas. LM Otero AP
Bastrop County delegate Mike Norman took a selfie with a photo of Donald Trump at the Texas Republican Convention May 13 in Dallas. LM Otero AP

Bud Kennedy

Poll: Trump up 6 in Texas; GOP voters say secede if he loses

By Bud Kennedy

bud@star-telegram.com

August 16, 2016 11:58 AM

UPDATED August 16, 2016 10:54 PM

When a presidential candidate is quoting the National Enquirer and taking campaign themes from radio conspiracy peddler Alex Jones, this is not your usual election year.

And if you think the rest of America has twisted a half-notch toward haywire, take a look at Texas.

A North Carolina-based polling company said Tuesday that New York Republican Donald J. Trump has a 6-point lead in the Lone Star State, with a 3-point margin of error.

That’s not the surprise. The surprise is buried deeper in the Public Policy Polling poll of 944 likely voters, where Trump’s Texas voters say:

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▪ If New York Democrat Hillary Clinton wins nationally, it will be because the election was rigged (71 percent).

▪ If it’s rigged, the blame might go to the progressive group ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), even though that group went out of business in 2010 (60 percent).

▪ And if Clinton wins, Trump voters and Texas Republicans as a whole say Texas should secede from the U.S. (57 percent).

Texans have talked about seceding before, or more likely using Texas’ legal option to divide into five states and gain Senate and electoral votes.

But Matthew Wilson, an SMU political science professor, notes Texas’ changing demographics and Clinton’s support among younger voters (60-35) and Hispanic voters (68-27).

“Even if Texas somehow were to secede,” he wrote by email, Trump voters might not like the results in 20 years: “They would essentially be living in a Latin American country.”

Trump’s conspiracy-driven claims of stolen elections and secret global alliances are too much for many Republicans, the poll showed.

One in 4 Texans who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 has an unfavorable view of Trump. About 10 percent of Romney’s 4.5 million Texas voters already switched to Clinton.

In a social media analysis by North Carolina-based Demographics Pro, Trump followers are four times more likely than Clinton’s to post seriously about a “new world order” or quote 9-11 “truthers.”

The poll results “really don’t surprise me,” UT Arlington political science professor Rebecca Deen wrote by email.

When you look at other studies, she wrote, “that Mr. Trump’s supporters are more likely to live in places where the average person feels left behind economically and culturally, that the broader system is rigged against them, that they have lost power and feel powerless — the trends make sense.”

Wilson, a scholar on faith-based conservative politics, wrote that claiming “rigged” elections is particularly risky.

“Increasingly,” he wrote, we think that everything is “rigged”: “elections, the economy, sporting events, the SAT, the criminal justice system, the college admissions process, etc.

 ‘Rigged’ has become synonymous, in the view of too many people, with ‘producing an outcome I don’t like.’ … Trump and his reckless claims are a particularly egregious example.”

Reckless always wins in Texas.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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