Jim Henson

Public Opinion and Gov. Abbott's State of the State Address

January 31, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

In his much-anticipated state of the state address before the legislature, Governor Abbott declared four emergency items. At the top of the list, as widely expected, he called the Legislature to work swiftly and comprehensively on addressing problems in child protective services and foster care. “Do it right!,” he exhorted them shortly before revealing it as his top emergency item. The Governor also declared banning Sanctuary cities, ethics reform, and a measure calling for a Convention of the states to consider constitutional amendments – one of his pet projects.

A Table With a First-Cut Comparison of House and Senate Budget Proposals for 2018-2019

January 20, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The House and Senate released their initial budget proposals this week, and with the help of the Legislative Budget Board, we've compiled a quick comparison of the starting point of negotiations.

Let the Games Begin: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, January 20, 2017

January 20, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

As the week ends with a historically unique presidential succession, politics in Texas have a more familiar ring as set pieces of the legislative session play out safely removed from that nasty Washington, D.C. swamp. Kind of. The week saw attempted mobilization of interest groups in the continuing efforts to shape the agenda, budgetary politics between the two chambers of the Legislature, fuel for the never-ending speculation on the next election cycle in Texas, the unveiling of committee assignments in the Senate, and a ruling in the running court battle over Planned Parenthood’s participation in Medicaid in Texas.

Senate Committees of the 85th Session in a Handy Table

January 18, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced today the Senate committees for the 85th Legislative session. Here's a look at what's changed and what's remained the same in one handy table. 

Following Up on Public Support for Lt. Governor Patrick's Priorities

January 11, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

We're with the Lt. Governor on using UT/TT polling data in political and policy coverage in which public opinion data contributes to informing the public. In the wake of his claim that "I think all of the bills we've released as priorities are supported by Republicans and Democrats" in an interview with Evan Smith, we've gone through our data archive and found polling results relevant to fifteen of the Lt. Governor's declared priorities, including extensive crosstabs.

The Legislative Success of the Anti-Straus Voters in 2015 and Their Gambit on the Speaker Vote in 2017

January 10, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The only somewhat interesting question amidst the opening ceremonies of the of the 85th Legislature is whether the House of Representatives will re-elect San Antonio Republican Joe Straus Speaker of the House by acclaim or by a record vote. The latter would require House dissidents who have endeared themselves to conservative activists in the interest group universe and in their districts by criticizing Straus to make a tough choice. Voting for Straus as Speaker on the public record creates a potential liability among the anti-Straus interest groups who are active participants in GOP primary elections. A recorded vote against Straus provides a public sign of opposition and invites being marginalized by the leadership in things like committee assignments and the treatment of their bills – which also potentially affects a member’s reelection prospects.

With Dan Patrick Expected to Announce Re-Election Bid, Some Polling Numbers

January 9, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Dan Patrick is expected to announce his intent to run for re-election today. He's had a busy four years since emerging from a strong GOP Primary field that included two statewide elected officials and another state senator in addition to Patrick.

A New Year's Dose of Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, January 8, 2017

January 8, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The first week of the New Year brought with it an unsurprising uptick in political signaling in the run-up to the advent of the 85th Texas Legislature. Speaker Straus gave an interview that sent some selected signals to both legislative chambers, while the Lt. Governor, having released a few lists of priorities before the holiday break, zeroed in on bathroom access Friday. In more indirect moves, Attorney General Ken Paxton released some strong fundraising numbers and an Austin-resident, ABC pundit, and scold of the two parties confirmed rumors that had circulated all through the fall that he was considering running in 2018 as an independent for the Texas Senate seat currently held by Ted Cruz. On the national front, the Senate Armed Services Committee held hearings in which testimony confirmed (along with a newly released report) that US intelligence agencies largely agreed that Russia intervened in the US election with the goals of de-legitimizing the process in the eyes of the world (and, presumably, Americans, it would seem), and also to aid Donald Trump.

Public Opinion in Texas at the Intersection of the Agendas of President-Elect Trump and the 85th Legislature

December 5, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Whether one takes President Trump literally or seriously – or both or neither – the advent of unified government under the auspices of a Republican Congress and a Republican President (nominally, at least) will shift the context within which the 85th Texas Legislature meets to pass a budget and create laws and public policy for the state. After 8 years and four sessions of counting on having a Democratic president and his policies to use as default examples of bad policy and government failure on most every issue, the Republican leadership in Texas now finds the federal government, and their national party, led by a President who on many of the most salient issues to Texas Republicans took positions strikingly similar to those they have used to win a host of lesser offices in recent years.

A Side Order of Polling Data to Go with Ross Ramsey’s Main Dish on Speaker Straus

November 28, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Given the overall range in which the Speaker’s approval and favorability have moved, which you can peruse in search results for the speaker at the Texas Politics Project data archive, “non-notoriety” seems to be a good label for where the Speaker is dwelling, though we’ll be watching to see if he stays in range of the slightly more recognized when we do our usual poll in the early days of the 85th Legislature.

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