Views of State’s Virus Response Vary Widely by Race

August 24, 2020

(Dallas, Texas, August 24, 2020) – Texans are deeply divided along racial lines over whether the state has relaxed coronavirus-related restrictions too quickly and whether getting the economy going or slowing the spread of the virus should be a higher priority, according to new polling from the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and Rice University’s Baker Institute.

The poll, also sponsored by the Dallas Morning News, found 44% of registered voters believe Texas has relaxed restrictions on business openings and social distancing requirements too quickly. But only 34.5% of Anglos believe things have moved too quickly, compared to 55.5% of Hispanics and 61.0% of African Americans.

Similarly, Texans are almost evenly split between those who believe the country’s top priority should be to get the economy going by sending people back to work and those who believe the top priority should be slowing the spread of the virus. However, while 77.7% of African Americans and 66.1% of Hispanics believe slowing the spread of the virus should be the top priority, only 40.2% of Anglos share that opinion.

The COVID-related findings come from a survey conducted between August 4 and August 13 among a representative sample of 846 Texas registered voters with a Hispanic oversample. The first set of results looked at voter preferences in the races for president and the U.S. Senate.

“People of color express much more concern about the speed with which Texas has lifted restrictions,” said Jason Villalba, President of the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that analyzes opinions and behaviors among Hispanic Texans. “Texans are deeply split in our evaluation of how the state has responded to the pandemic and what the priority should be going forward. These divides highlight the difficulty of building consensus around the state’s response.”

Hispanic (29.4%) and African American (23.7%) poll respondents were significantly more likely than Anglos (12.3%) to say they or an immediate family member has tested positive for COVID-19. These findings track with state and national public health data showing that minority communities are disproportionately affected by the disease.

“The coronavirus has taken a severe toll on minority communities and exacerbated inequities in health care,” said THPF Board Member and former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. “This virus has been especially devastating for Hispanics and other people of color.”

While 9 out of 10 registered voters in Texas say they are likely or extremely likely to wear a mask when entering a grocery store or other retail space, according to Dr. Mark P. Jones, the THPF Director of Research and Analytics, “a majority of Texans report they are unlikely to wear a mask when entering the home of a friend or relative, with this behavior significantly more common among Anglos than among either Hispanics or African Americans.”

About the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation
The Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation operates as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated and committed to analyzing and exploring the political, economic, social, demographic, and familial attitudes and behaviors of Texas Hispanics. In collaboration with Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, the Foundation conducts surveys, polls, research, data collection and analysis concerning the Hispanic population in Texas. You can find more information about the Foundation at

Download the Report