Jim Henson

First-Take Notes on Messaging and Politics in Lt. Governor Patrick’s Public Ed Presser

July 13, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s press conference today was a  textbook Patrick effort to garner media coverage in order to shape the legislative agenda after several weeks marked by the relatively predictable public assertions of Governor Abbott. The overall effort was geared at delivering a Republican approach to public education after a session in which Patrick and his allies focused primarily on creating a means of funneling public funds to private and parochial schools in the name of “school choice” as their major approach to improving public education.  Here are some of the messaging components in the press conference, with some notes on how these messages might fall in the public opinion landscape among Texas Republicans.

Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics: “OMG, The New Yorker is Paying Attention to Us!” Edition

July 7, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The Fourth of July came and went this week, and by Thursday the invocation of self-evident truths had given way to the U.S. Department of Justice deeming Senate Bill 5 a good enough fix to the deficiencies in Texas' voter ID law. The center right and leftward embraced Lawrence Wright's telling of the tale of the 85th Legislature in The New Yorker, which at 20,000 words or so had lots of space for close observations by a good writer, though the actual argument about Texas and the U.S. promised in the hed ("America's Future is Texas") seemingly remains to be made in the forthcoming book.

Texas Public Attitudes Toward Ted Cruz and the Politics of Repeal & Replace

July 6, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

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    Public Opinion Notes on Gay Marriage and Discrimination in the Wake of the Texas Supreme Court Ruling

    June 30, 2017
    By: 
    Jim Henson
    Joshua Blank

    The Texas Supreme Court appears to have slowed down the progression in LGBTQ rights since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that ruled gay marriage constitutionally protected. Per Alexa Ura's coverage in the Texas Tribune, the Texas Supremes have remanded "a lower court ruling that said spouses of gay and lesbian public employees are entitled to government-subsidized same-sex marriage benefits" back down the chain in order to clarify whether and how much the state can limit benefits associated with marriage. The June 2017 University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll included the latest version of our standard gay marriage question, as well as an item on whether religious beliefs should be a legal rationale for exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.

    Texas Data Points From the June 2017 UT/Texas Tribune Poll

    June 23, 2017
    By: 
    Jim Henson
    Joshua Blank

    The June 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll underlined both the Lt. Governor’s success at getting his name out there, but also the continuing strength of a better known Governor. An increase in the salience of legislative efforts to regulate transgender people’s access to bathrooms among conservatives in the GOP is a testament, though, to Patrick’s ability to capture the imagination of his base. Or maybe it’s hearts and minds, judging by some of the patterns of support for another conservative cause, so-called conscience exemptions. You don’t need to practice much pattern recognition, though, to pick up on the odd fact that, for all the declarations that some people in the legislature let conservatives down in the 85th, the Tea Party faction seems pretty pleased with the achievements of the legislature and its leadership. One thing no one seems interested in is throwing legal voters in jail, even if they fail to use their photo id when they vote. Seems there are limits after all.

    Austin is Not Alone: Local Government is a Good Foil for the State’s Republican leadership

    June 20, 2017
    By: 
    Jim Henson
    Joshua Blank

    The increasing efforts to use state government to pre-empt the power of local governments emerges from a confluence of state and national politics that is much bigger than Austin, even though the Legislature has a history of treating Austin as a liberal burr under an ever more conservative saddle.

    Giving (Some of) the People What They Want: 85th Legislature Endgame Edition

    May 17, 2017
    By: 
    Jim Henson
    Joshua Blank

    The to-and-fro between Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick this week provides the latest development in the Austin political press corps’ favorite plot line, the personal relationships among the Big Three.

    Texas GOP Leaders Face Budget Choices Amidst Vague Public Attitudes

    May 11, 2017
    By: 
    Jim Henson
    Joshua Blank

     The public — in particular the part of the public that matters most in practical terms, Republican voters — likely remains to be persuaded of the best path forward, holding attitudes that are not especially well-informed or fixed. In particular, given that the sticking point seems to be whether or not to tap the Economic Stabilization Fund, commonly called the Rainy Day Fund (RDF), only a plurality hew to a reflexive reluctance to tap the fund, with a decisive chunk of voters not having any opinion as of February.   

    Public Attitudes Fuel Sharp Partisan Conflict on Sanctuary Cities Bill

    April 26, 2017
    By: 
    Jim Henson
    Joshua Blank

    Amidst a legislative session largely defined by intramural conflict among Republicans – which has muddled the progress of other causes near and dear to the hearts of the conservative activists in the party while remaining divisive among the broader ranks – sanctuary cities legislation is, for the most part, a chance for some good old-fashioned partisan politics between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans will hold advantages in both numbers in the legislature and, critically, the support of their base in fighting Democratic efforts to procedurally derail SB4 and to otherwise sabotage the bill using the amendment process.

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