Texans think that Barack Obama's right and Joe Barton's wrong when it comes to BP's responsibility for cleaning up the oil spill, and a plurality of voters in the state think Barton should lose his leadership post on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Only 18% of voters think that BP deserved the apology Barton sent its way last week to 65% who think it did not. Barton doesn't even get much support from Republican voters on that front- only 23% of them say it was right to apologize to BP. With Democrats and independents the numbers are even lower at 17% and 12% respectively.
64% of Texans think the President was right to ask BP to compensate victims of the oil spill with only 27% opposed to that move. Support for Obama's action comes from 88% of Democrats, 59% of independents, and even a 45% plurality of Republicans.
This episode is having a negative impact on how voters in Texas perceive Barton overall. Only 21% have a favorable opinion of him while 28% see him negatively. 42% of voters in the state think he should resign from his leadership position to 31% who think he should remain in it.
None of this should have much impact on Barton's personal prospects for reelection, as his district tilts strongly to the GOP side. But Republicans are well advised to stay clear of Barton's comments, because the poll numbers indicate this is an issue where Democrats could find some resonance with independent voters. They see Barton negatively by a 35/14 margin, think he should lose his leadership post by a 45/29 spread, think Obama was right on this issue 59/29, and oppose an apology to BP 75/12. Given those numbers GOP leaders would probably like to see this issue disappear as soon as possible.
I doubt this whole episode is going to be very important four months from now- it's too long away from the election and doesn't have that much direct impact on voters across the country- but Barton would do his party by a favor by shutting his mouth for a couple weeks and letting the story die.