Washington

John Cornyn’s Approval Rating Among Texans Is Holding Steady Amid Gun Safety Push

43% of Texas voters — and 68% of Republicans — approve of Cornyn’s job performance, unchanged since the Uvalde shooting

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Protecting America’s Children From Gun Violence"on June 15. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

A chorus of boos may have rained down on Sen. John Cornyn at the Texas GOP’s convention last week, but as the Texas Republican shepherds the Senate’s bipartisan gun safety legislation to the finish line, Morning Consult Political Intelligence tracking shows he’s maintaining his typical level of popularity at home, including among voters in his own party. 

Cornyn’s approval rating among Texas voters

  • A 43% plurality of Texas voters approve of Cornyn’s job performance, unchanged from surveys conducted just before the May 24 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that prompted the latest gun control push on Capitol Hill. Just over a third (36%) disapprove of him, up 1 percentage point over that time frame.
  • Positive sentiment about Cornyn also hasn’t changed among Republicans, 68% of whom approve of his job performance. But since his involvement in the bipartisan gun legislation, the share who disapprove increased from 11% to 17%. 
  • A third of independents (34%) in the Lone Star State approve of Cornyn, along with about 1 in 5 Democrats (22%).

Where Cornyn stands with his party’s top influencers

The stability in Texans’ sentiment about their senior senator, who has played a leading role in talks that look set to deliver the first enactment of bipartisan gun restrictions in decades, suggests the blowback he faced at last week’s convention is not particularly representative. 

The measure advanced in the Senate on Tuesday with the support of 14 Republicans, including Cornyn and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose endorsement of the package likely tamped down on vocal opposition from Republicans on Capitol Hill that would help sway public opinion. It also came at a time when Republican support for stricter gun control nationwide was higher than it had been since Donald Trump’s presidency, creating an opening for Cornyn and others to delve into thorny gun politics amid Americans’ sympathy for the school shooting victims. The bill is expected to pass the chamber later this week.

After the Senate’s vote, some outrage from influential conservative voices began to increase: Fox News host Tucker Carlson, perhaps the most prominent voice on the right other than Trump, called Cornyn “far left” on his show. Trump followed suit on Wednesday, posting on his social media platform that Cornyn is a “RINO” (shorthand for “Republican in name only”) setting the Democrats on the path to “TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY.”  

For his part, Cornyn, who was just comfortably re-elected in 2020, has minimized the idea that his action will harm his standing at home, telling Politico, “I guess we’ll find out. I don’t think so.”

Among conservative voters who would be most prone to shifting their views in response to Cornyn’s high-profile approach to the gun issue, he’s mostly right — perhaps because his support was already relatively tepid among the Texas GOP base.

How Cornyn stacks up against other Texas officials

  • Among Texas Republicans, 29% “strongly” approve of Cornyn’s job performance, less than the 44% who say the same of fellow Texas Republicans, Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz, the latter of whom spent the weeks following the Uvalde shooting criticizing gun control efforts.
  • Abbott, whose government has overseen an investigation into the much maligned police response to the Uvalde shooting, is the most popular official in Texas, with 85% approval among Texas Republicans and 50% backing among the overall electorate. Both figures are similar to where they were before the Uvalde shooting.

The latest survey was conducted June 11-20, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,420 Texas registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult