Jim Henson

The Presidents Come to the Texas Border

February 28, 2024
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

National and state politics converge this week with the simultaneous visits of President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump to the Texas-Mexico border on Thursday. Trump will appear in Eagle Pass, the site of ongoing tension between state and federal law enforcement agencies deployed to manage the increased flow of migrants into the U.S., while Biden will visit Brownsville. 

Texas partisans' views of the U.S. role in the world illuminate the roiled politics of U.S. foreign policy

February 23, 2024
By: 
Jim Henson

For the first time in a decade of polling, more Texans in the February 2024 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll agreed than disagreed that “This country would be better off if we just stayed home and did not concern ourselves with problems in other parts of the world." The poll found 48% of Texas voters agreeing with the statement as legislation that would provide military, economic, and humanitarian aid to countries including Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan remains stalled in Congress amidst divisions in both parties about U.S. spending priorities, particularly Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Divergent attitudes among Texas partisans on the general idea of U.S. foreign policy and toward the countries involved largely align with the bitter divisions paralyzing Congress and pushing foreign policy issues into the 2024 presidential campaign.

New UT/Texas Politics Project Poll: As primary voting begins, Texans see a crisis on the border

February 19, 2024
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

This post focuses on results from an extensive battery of immigration and border security results, then presents an overview of highlights from the February 2024 University of Texas / Texas Politics Project Poll. A majority of Texas voters support making it harder for migrants fleeing violence in their home countries to seek asylum in the U.S., while majorities also support many of the controversial measures undertaken by Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature in response to the situation at the southern border that have received significant national attention this winter, according to the February 2024 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll. The 59% of Texas voters who favor making it harder for migrants fleeing violence in their home countries to seek asylum in the U.S. includes nearly three quarters of Republicans (71%) and nearly half of Democratic voters (48%). 

Issues, endorsements, and ideology: The public opinion context for the Texas primaries

February 19, 2024
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The 2024 primary elections in Texas are among the most contested and the most heated of any legislative primaries since the establishment of the near-monopoly of state government after the Republican sweep of the 2002 elections. Governor Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick have all waded into GOP primary contests with endorsements, campaign resources, and very hot rhetoric in multiple House races, opposing an unprecedented number of Republican incumbents.

Texas views on abortion, the economy, and guns from the February 2024 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll

February 19, 2024
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Policy questions included in the February 2024 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll focused mostly on subjects that previous polls and observation of the campaigns have suggested are issues most likely to be salient in the 2024 election campaigns.

Trending into 2024: How the past year in Texas public opinion sets the stage for the election year in Texas

January 17, 2024
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Texans’ attitudes about politics – whether about issues, ideas, institutions, political leaders, or any other political subject – are only one of several persistent elements that shape how the state’s political system works. Political elites, by definition, make decisions that are far more consequential than any individual vote. Structural elements like the economy, international flows of migrants, or climate change ripple through politics. But in a democratic political system, even one experiencing duress, public opinion interacts with all of these factors, responding to context and to the actions of elites while also acting as part of a feedback loop among all three. Below are nine observations drawn from University of Texas/Texas Politics Project polling data to provide context as the 2024 elections unfold.

Despite the record of the 88th Legislature, GOP legislators have trouble displaying enough of the Right Stuff to fend off widespread challenges to incumbents.

January 12, 2024
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The last two legislative sessions saw Texas Republicans successfully championing new laws that gained national attention for testing the boundaries of Constitutionality and public acceptance. From Texas’ de facto ban on abortion, with its creation of a civil bounty-hunting enforcement mechanism, to the assertion of state authority over border and immigration enforcement, the Republican-led legislature and leading statewide elected officials have invested an enormous amount of political capital in implementing measures expected to appeal strongly to the most conservative corners of the Texas GOP. Yet public opinion polling and the emerging dynamics of the 2024 GOP primary suggest that for Republican legislative incumbents, the threshold for demonstrating that you have the right stuff to avoid being challenged from the right in this year’s heated primary is at best a moving target.

Texas Republicans’ views of January 6 align with views of the 2020 election and Donald Trump

January 5, 2024
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Three years after rioters violently overran the U.S. Capitol and disrupted the counting of electoral college votes to ratify Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, the deep divisions and decay in institutional trust that fueled the riot remain starkly apparent in Texas public opinion.  

December UT/Texas Politics Project Poll: After long legislative session, Texas voters have not-so-great expectations

December 19, 2023
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

After a bruising 2023 legislative session extended by four special sessions, Texas voters continue to convey little confidence in legislative efforts to address key problems in the state such as the reliability of the grid, public school safety, and improved border security, according to a University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll conducted in early December. When asked about their support for key legislative priorities during the session, the issues deemed most important by the largest shares of voters were areas in which the legislature either failed to pass significant legislation or achieved mixed results.

Revisiting Texas attitudes on immigration and border security as Abbott doubles down in McAllen with Donald Trump

November 17, 2023
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

As the Thanksgiving holiday and the expiration date of a fourth special session of the Texas Legislature draw near, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican legislative majority are close to enacting a new batch of legislation related to immigrants and border security that yet again push the boundaries of both the U.S. Constitution and historical norms around the treatment of migrants and immigrants in the U.S.. Expect the new legal and rhetorical boundaries (or lack thereof) around “securing the border” to be on full display when Gov. Abbott and Donald Trump stage a joint visit to McAllen this weekend, where Abbott is expected to endorse Trump’s bid to return to the White House and the two are expected to discuss “future plans for curbing illegal immigration.”

Even as people who work in the Texas Capitol continue to obsess about the death match over school choice playing out in the legislature in the final days of the special session, it should be no surprise that Republicans from Trump and Abbott down to legislative backbenchers all view immigration and border security as their political lifelines after a bruising year of unprecedented political infighting. With the prospects of delivering an ESA/voucher/choice bill still too close to call amidst continued resistance in the Texas House, there's no denying the political logic of keeping immigration and border security on the legislative agenda, which sustain Republican campaigns in both primary and general election campaigns more than any other policy issues.

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