Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is pulling out all the stops to build a border wall between his state and Mexico, and a new poll shows that his base is all for it.
Texas Republicans are overwhelmingly supportive of Abbott’s border wall effort: 89% support it and only 8% are opposed, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. Overall, 50% of Texas voters support it, while 46% are opposed.
Abbott, a Republican up for reelection in 2022, is even soliciting private donations to help make it possible. In just one week, Texas received $459,000 in private donations for its planned wall at the southern border, according to numbers from Abbott’s office, the Texas Tribune reported on June 23.
The Republican governor has yet to release a cost estimate, timeline or specific locations for the project, though he told the Texas Tribune that “hundreds of miles” of wall would be built.
While nearly half a million dollars is a sizable chunk of cash for a crowdsourced fundraiser, it appears to be a drop in the bucket compared with the potential cost of the wall. Already Abbott has sought to divert millions in federal funds intended for Covid-19 relief to the wall effort – and Texas Democrats are not happy about it. That’s on top of the $250 million “down payment” coming out of the state’s budget.
The border wall is still a potent symbol with the GOP base, a sign of former President Donald Trump’s steady hold on the party, even though Trump oversaw only partial construction and reconstruction during his presidential tenure.
The wall is clearly still on Trump’s mind, too. Abbott and the former President plan to visit the southern border together on Wednesday. Abbott’s reelection bid has been endorsed by Trump. He is also considered a potential 2024 contender.
Abbott’s border wall runs counter to President Joe Biden’s policy, which took aim at Trump’s. On Biden’s first day in office, he moved to end the national emergency declaration that had allowed Trump to dip into additional funds for the wall and he paused wall construction projects until further review.
There is some precedent to what Abbott is doing. Republican lawmakers in Arizona tried a similar crowdfunding effort in the 2010s, but it ultimately backfired. And then there’s the effort by the Steve Bannon-backed group We Build the Wall … which was charged by the Justice Department with defrauding donors.
Abbott has pledged “great transparency” on the Texas border wall project, saying that “everyone will know every penny in, every penny out, but the sole purpose for those funds will be going to build the border wall.”
The Point: Abbott’s border wall gamble lets him push for a popular GOP pet project AND raise his profile nationally as he runs for reelection. Convenient!