Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Attitudes Toward Democracy are Underwater in Texas: Some Takeaways from Results on Voting and Expectations for the 2020 Election

October 13, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The COVID-19 pandemic led to local elections and run-offs some local officials postponing elections in the spring and early summer. By emergency proclamation, Governor Greg Abbott expanded the period of early voting and loosened some of the rules regulating the in-person submission of mail-in ballots, even as he and the attorney general waged political and legal counter-offensives against efforts by local officials, voting rights groups, and Democrats in various configurations to ease access to the ballot box during the pandemic. As part of this political zig-zagging, the governor, in a subsequent proclamation, limited the number of in-person, mail-in ballot drop-off locations to one per county.  Despite Abbott’s refusal to expand voting by mail, as many advocated during the height of the pandemic, the new Chairman of the state Republican Party, Allen West, joined efforts by Republicans to sue the governor over his expansion of the early voting period. Both parties also maneuvered to get their third party rivals removed from the ballot. This list isn’t even comprehensive, nor have we made mention of the widely chronicled and vehement aspersions Donald Trump continues to cast on the integrity of the election process as his national and state poll numbers erode.

With all of this as context (and great interest and high expectations that the results would be interesting), we designed a battery of questions for the October 2020 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll probing Texans’ attitudes about the conduct of the elections in Texas and their expectations of the process in 2020. The results don’t disappoint in terms of their interest, but it’s appropriate that we greet them with Halloween on the horizon. They are grim and even scary. 

Five Medium-Hot Takes from the First Wave of October 2020 UT/Texas Tribune Poll Results

October 9, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The Texas Tribune rolled out three Ross Ramsey stories on the first wave of results from the October University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll early Friday morning. The release included results of the trial ballots in the presidential and U.S. Senate races, as well as job approval numbers for the candidates and several state elected officials.  Here are five first-cut takeaways from the day one results – much more analysis to come, and many more results focused on matters such as race and policing, attitudes and behaviors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and expectations of how smoothly the election and its afternmath will go coming next week. (Find a summary of day one results in pdf form here.) Below are some early impressions of the first group of results, with much more drilldown to come between now and Election Day.

Whatever their causes, Super Tuesday primary election problems poison already toxic public attitudes toward the electoral process in Texas

March 6, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The long lines and cascading glitches in Texas’ primary contests on Super Tuesday raises yet again the issue of how politics shapes perceptions about the conduct of elections in Texas. While the multiple causes of the Super Tuesday breakdown in some of the state’s largest cities will continue to be dissected in the weeks and months ahead, we know one thing for sure: The public response to failures in the voting process will be viewed through darkly shaded partisan lenses. Polling within the last year reveals how much skepticism about the integrity of voting and elections in Texas pervades the electorate, though with completely different suspicions fueling the concerns of Democrats and Republicans.

Health care and its discontents loom over Texas Democrats in 2020

March 2, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Democratic voters’ focus on health care keeps that issue at center stage in the presidential primary, with the spotlight shining most brightly on the politics of “Medicare for All” — the 2020 shorthand for universal government-provided health insurance.

National polling almost universally shows that Democrats rank health care as one of the most important election issues (as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently reminded anyone who would listen), and that they overwhelmingly favor of providing the universal coverage promised by Medicare for everyone.

Yet public opinion polling in Texas reveals significant disagreement about the details of delivery, particularly whether government-provided health insurance should entirely replace existing private insurance, including plans provided in full or in part by employers.

Donald Trump's Job Approval Ratings Updated with February 2020 UT/Texas Tribune Poll Results

February 20, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

 Donald Trump's presidential job approval ratings have shown remarkable strength acorss key demographic categories thorughout his presidency.  We've updated our table with breakdowns of presidential job approval among key Republican subgroups with data from the February 2020 UT/Texas Tribune Poll.

Public Opinion and a Big #TxLege Agenda for Tuesday, March 7

March 6, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

It’s hard not to see the late-breaking addition of the Public Education Committee chair Dan Huberty’s just-filed HB 21 to the committee's agenda Tuesday as a bit of a chess move against both voucher advocates and the Senate, where the State Affairs Committee will be holding a high profile hearing on SB 6, the bathroom access bill championed by the Lt. Governor.

The Limits of Public Polling on Texas Bathroom Access

February 15, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Advocates of proposed legislation that would constrain or reverse efforts by local governments to guarantee transgender people access to public facilities of their choice repeatedly have invoked public opinion polling as evidence of broad public support for the legislation. The currently available polling, however, provides only tentative information about public attitudes toward the highest profile legislation, Senate Bill 6. Because access to public facilities is a comparatively new issue on the public agenda, most people are still forming opinions about it, which makes attention to the intentions and uses of different kinds of polling critical to assessing how polling is used for advocacy on this and other issues.

Trump’s Left Behind Voters and GOP Politics in Texas

December 16, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Nonetheless, pre-election polling in Texas reveals a group of conservative voters who do report feeling left behind by changes in the economy, while also holding attitudes that cohere with broader elements of Trump’s rhetoric-- and, crucially, with the appeals of the most conservative factions of the Texas GOP. The beginning of the Trump presidency will come 10 days after the opening gavel of the 85th Texas Legislature. While the internal dynamics of the state’s political system traditionally drive most policy and politics in the session, Trump’s ascension to the presidential bully pulpit, at the head of one-party rule in Washington, markedly changes the national context and its possible impact. 

What the UT/TT Poll tells us about Texans' support for Donald Trump

November 3, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The picture painted by Texans' views of Donald Trump compared to Mitt Romney at this stage in the 2012 campaign clarifies why the presidential race has become much closer than anyone anticipated. The polling data also shed light on the nature of Trump's coalition and suggest that the attitudes sustaining Trump's candidacy in Texas will continue to play a role in GOP politics in Texas, regardless of the future of the candidate himself.

Assessing Attitudes in Trump's Texas Basket

September 14, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Hillary Clinton’s riff in a speech to campaign contributors last week that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables....The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it,” has invited mostly negative responses. 

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