A majority of Texans reported a high degree of concern over extreme weather, the state’s energy future and related infrastructure challenges, a new poll has found.

The fourth Texas Voter Poll, conducted shortly before the most recent winter storm by Texas 2036, a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to “building long-term, data-driven strategies to secure Texas’ continued prosperity,” reflected “significant concerns ” about the state’s ability to adapt to changing future conditions, according to a Wednesday release accompanying the poll.

The poll of registered voters included a wide range of questions, on everything from Texas students’ low reading scores, the historic backlog of criminal cases in state courts and the state’s ability to meet its future water needs.

But it broke out for special focus answers to questions about weather, electric grid reliability, infrastructure investment and the state’s ability to adapt to changing future conditions.

Among registered Texas voters, the poll found:

  • 53% are extremely or very concerned about the extreme weather trends Texas faces. Texas’ state climatologist, based at Texas A&M University, has projected that Texas will experience more 100-degree days, more extreme rainfall, more urban flooding, greater hurricane intensity and increased drought severity by 2036.
  • Only 10% of voters described themselves as “very confident” in Texas’ electric grid, while almost a quarter said they were “not that confident” and another quarter said they were “not at all confident.”
  • Just over half of voters described themselves as extremely or very concerned, with another 24% somewhat concerned, that the state might not apply for federal infrastructure funds and, as a result, could fall behind other states in advanced energy technologies such as hydrogen, energy storage and carbon capture. 
  • 72% of Texas voters — including 65% of Republicans, 71% of independents and 81% of Democrats — agreed that Texas should accept and maximize federal infrastructure and pandemic relief funding.
  • More than half of voters — including 50% of Republicans and 63% of Democrats — said they are willing to spend more to fortify the electric grid against extreme weather events. 
  • Almost three-quarters of respondents believe the state should lead the nation in adopting new, cleaner forms of energy that grow the economy, create jobs and improve air quality — especially given the historic role that energy has played in the state’s history.

“Texans want to be the world leader on energy — that hasn’t changed, and it never will,” stated Jeremy Mazur, senior policy advisor for Texas 2036, in the release. “But Texans know that the definition of leadership has expanded in the 21st century. It now means continuing to lead on oil and gas and nuclear power, certainly, but also on newer strategies such as renewable and clean energy, hydrogen and geothermal power, carbon capture and technologies that are still in the lab.”

The poll surveyed 1,001 registered voters from Jan. 19–26 about their attitudes regarding the present and future of Texas and their concerns about issues facing the state. It has a margin of error of ± 3.1%. The interviews were conducted via cell phones (44%), landline calls (21%) and online contacts (34%), according to Texas 2036.

Disclosure: Texas 2036 Executive Vice President A.J. Rodriguez serves as chairman of the board of the San Antonio Report.

Tracy Idell Hamilton

Tracy Idell Hamilton is Story Editor for the San Antonio Report.