Jim Henson

The Inconvenient Role of Texas Public Opinion in This Week's SB 4 Ruling

August 31, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

On August 30, a federal court in San Antonio issued a temporary injunction halting the September 1 implementation of part of Senate Bill 4, the so-called anti-Sanctuary Cities bill passed during the regular session amid much controversy, including heated confrontation on the floor of the Texas House on the last day of business. The decision temporarily blocked implementation of provisions designed to force local authorities to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and to mete out various punishments to local governments and specific individuals that enact policies limiting enforcement and cooperation, but let stand the provision guaranteeing the ability of law enforcement officers to inquire about the citizenship status of anyone they have lawfully detained.  In the June 2017 University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll, we asked Texans about the two sets of provisions treated in this week's decision. To the extent that concern might be thought of as overwhelming, it was not in the direction the ruling took.

A Quick Look at Donald Trump's Texas Poll Numbers as He Visits in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey

August 29, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson

Donald Trump will make a presidential visit to Texas to survey the damage wrought by Harvey – reports say he will visit Corpus Christi – and to drop in on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s operations center in Austin. We last polled Texans’ attitudes toward the president in the June 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. For a compendium of every poll item related to Trump going back to the 2016 primary and campaign, see this search result in our poll archive. 

Subtweeting the 85th Texas Legislature

August 18, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Most of the post-session coverage among the Texas political press has predictably focused on the politics of the big three and how much (or how little) of Greg Abbott’s agenda was acted on by the Legislature – coverage led by public signalling from both the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. But a look at some of the lower profile aspects across the arc of both the regular and special sessions of the 85th Legislature reveals a lot about the nature of the for-now dormant legislature and, more broadly, Texas politics as the political mix shifts more heavily toward electoral politics.

Slouching Toward Sine Die: A Special Session Driven by Party Politics, Not Public Demand

August 11, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The lowered expectations for the special session make sense if one looks at conservative and Republican attitudes toward the legislature and statewide leaders at the conclusion of the regular session of the 85th Legislature. While Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and the leadership of some of the state’s most vocal conservative interest groups have either suggested or implied widespread public demand for more action, polling suggests significant conservative contentment with the results of the 85th – and thus, little active demand for more legislation from the legislature at this time. 

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.

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