You may be an avid follower and consumer of all things politics, but chances are your neighbor isn't. And maybe you aren't either. A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune survey of registered voters across the state reveals a lot of apathy when it comes to key candidates or races in next year's election. The poll finds 68 percent of Texas voters know little or nothing about the months-long controversy over a secret meeting with a political activist that led state House Speaker Dennis Bonnen to forego re-election. In fact, 55 percent have no opinion about Bonnen.
Another finding in the poll is 57 percent of Texas Democrats still have no opinion about whom they support in next year's U.S. Senate primary to challenge Sen. John Cornyn. Furthermore, of the nine Democratic candidates in that race for the March primary, none had a name recognition higher than 24 percent.
Texas political consultant Matt Langston with Big Dog Strategies says these numbers reflect common voter behavior. "This explains why our political system is reliant on generating voter contact and voter activity," he tells KTRH. "Name ID and favorability is all fleeting."
Langston also notes that while political junkies are already diving into 2020, it's still too early for most of the public. "Most elections are decided in the last six weeks, so before that it's very hard to get voters to pay attention, to engage, and to commit to a candidate," he says.
When voters do eventually get engaged and decide how to vote, it won't be based on dramatic political headlines or controversies. "Voters on a daily basis are more concerned about table-top issues, like how much is the cost of milk or how much is gasoline," says Langston. "Most people are focused on things like sending their kids to college, about things right in front of them. They're not worried about the political mess in either Austin or D.C."