Amid impeachment effort, Texas House speaker’s popularity plummets in his own district

By the last weekend of May, 35% polled expressed a favorable view of Phelan, down from 60%, with 15% expressing a “very favorable” and 20% a “somewhat favorable” view.

Published: June 4, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

Recent polls indicate that House Speaker Dade Phelan’s popularity is plummeting in his district.

House District 24, which prior to redistricting was the shape of a horseshoe encompassing Winnie, Port Arthur, Beaumont and Orange in southeast Texas, now includes a sliver of the region stretching north to include Jasper County.

Two polls conducted by CWS Research, LLC, a veteran-owned general consulting and data analytics firm hired by Defend Texas Liberty PAC, show Phelan’s favorability has dropped by roughly half after the 88th general legislative session. Both polls surveyed likely 2024 Texas Republican primary voters in Texas House District 21. The polls were conducted through a series of live phone calls and online surveys delivered by SMS messages. Participants were randomly selected and the surveys have a +/- margin of error of 4.86% and 4.88%, respectively.

The first poll, conducted in January, shows Phelan having a favorability rating of 60%. Roughly 34% expressed a “very favorable” view of Phelan; 26% a “somewhat favorable” view. If the 2024 Republican Primary Election were held at the time the poll was conducted, 40% said they’d vote for Phelan; 34% said they’d vote for a more conservative candidate and 26% said they were unsure.

Five months later, his favorability dropped by half. The second poll was conducted over Memorial Day weekend, the same weekend House members voted to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton after the results of an investigation conducted by House committee members appointed by Phelan were made public.

The investigation was made public after the attorney general called for the same committee to investigate the behavior of Phelan, who appeared to be intoxicated while performing official duties on the House floor. Many people posted video of the speaker slurring his words and appearing to be intoxicated. Most recently, a new video has been compiled highlighting multiple instances.

Instead of launching an investigation into Phelan, the committee announced it was levying 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton and the House had 48 hours to vote. On Saturday, 121 members of the House voted to impeach, prompting an outrage among conservatives, among whom 8 million had voted for Paxton’s reelection to a third term last November.

By the last weekend of May, 35% polled expressed a favorable view of Phelan, down from 60%, with 15% expressing a “very favorable” and 20% a “somewhat favorable” view.

If the election were held that weekend in May, 24% polled said they would vote for Phelan; 48% would vote for a “more conservative candidate.” Nearly 30% said they were unsure.

The demographics for both polls remained largely the same. The majority of likely Republican primary voters polled were white, women, and over age 65. The majority, 85%, were registered Republicans, 15% were independents.

Jonathan Stickland, president of Defend Texas Liberty PAC, said, "These polling numbers are devastating for Dade Phelan. He’s chosen to go to war with Republicans this session and it has clearly cost him with his voters. Every poll I’ve seen has shown similar problems for incumbent RINO Republicans. I’ve never seen a speaker as vulnerable as Dade Phelan is today.”

Both Texas’ U.S. senators have weighed in on the impeachment process.

In a series of tweets, Sen. Cruz said what was happening to Paxton “is a travesty. For the last nine years, Ken has been the strongest conservative AG in the country. Bar none. No attorney general has battled the abuses of the Biden admin more ferociously – and more effectively – than has Paxton.

“That’s why the swamp in Austin wants him out. The special interests don’t want a steadfast conservative AG. I understand that people are concerned about Ken’s legal challenges. But the courts should sort them out.”

Sen. John Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general, said the House committee report was “deeply troubling.” He told reporters last week, “The fact that this has come this far with the Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate and a Republican attorney general tells you that this is serious enough that people are looking past party labels to try to see what we need to do to preserve the public trust and integrity of the institution.”

The Senate is scheduled to announce impeachment rules June 20. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said the trial will be held no later than August 28.

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