Jim Henson

Public Attitudes and Post-Orlando Politics: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, June 17, 2016

June 17, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The week in politics has been dominated by the sad but also politically complicated aftermath of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. We’ve gathered polling data relevant to the unusually complex tangle of issues that intersect the terrible events in Orlando. Which of these you think matters most (or at all) likely depends on partisanship and political ideology  – a facet of contemporary politics in the United States that made dramatically, often painfully, clear in the public discourse that has followed the Orlando murders.  As both public figures and the general public seek ways to think about the Orlando killers, attitudes about a complex range of issues -- terrorism, civil rights, gun violence,  immigration, Barack Obama’s presidency -- offer a range of contexts in which to frame the events in Orlando that were, at the same time, unambiguously terrible.

99 Trial Balloons: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

​The state’s political leadership moved this week to publicly acknowledge what reporters at some of the major dailies have been saying for weeks now: the use of emergency leave as severance pay by another name (mostly) is a thing, and not a good one. Depending on your perspective, Speaker Straus either sent up a trial balloon or invested a little political capital in an agenda setting move as the 85th Legislature looms a little closer on the horizon. Speaking of trial balloons, Hillary Clinton launched a big blue one in a reference to competing in Texas in a very good long read profile in New York Magazine, triggering a renewed discussion of her prospects in the land of Hill & Bill’s McGovernite youth as well renewed attention the headaches and heartburn Donald Trump’s approach to Hispanic outreach is causing in the GOP. Conservative opinion leader Bill Kristol’s search for a conservative alternative to Trump in the presidential has apparently led him to one David French. Sadly, there was another shooting on a college campus, which resonated, if probably only briefly, with the ongoing movement in Texas toward the August 1 implementation of campus carry policies on Texas campuses.

If Taxis Had Bathrooms... : Texas Data Points for the Week In Politics, May 13 2016

May 13, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The Obama administration has jumped into the fight over how LGBT rights should be applied to bathrooms in public schools, which will no doubt enter the discussion at the State GOP convention and be a matter for the Lt. Governor to engage in a high profile way. In other less attention-grabbing news, Iran is testing missiles and the courts won't force the Texas Legislature to revamp the manner in which Texas schools are funded.  

WELCOME HOME SENATOR CRUZ EDITION: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, May 6, 2016

May 6, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

While there was plenty going in Texas politics this week, it’s all secondary to Donald Trump taking the wheel of the national Republican Party while the kids fight in the back seat. Ted Cruz had a bigger taste of the presidential race than almost anyone expected, and is likely to come back to Texas, on balance, an enhanced political figure in his party. He’ll look even better if the Trump candidacy is a disaster for the GOP, though it would have to be some kind of meltdown for Trump to make Hillary Clinton a real contender in Texas. Not all Republicans will be on board, though the Governor and Lt. Governor ripped the Band Aid off quickly and endorsed Trump. Others Republicans have chosen to pick at those scabs.

Jammy Texas Data Points from the Week in Texas Politics - April 29, 2016

April 28, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

It was another big week of agenda setting maneuvers in the world of Texas legislative politics, while in the 2016 presidential race, the Cruz campaign continued trying to salvage hope while trailing badly in both votes and delegates.  ​Featuring Speaker Straus, Lt. Govenor Patrick, Ross Ramsey, Erica Grieder, and the Allman Brothers Band.

Texas Data Points from the Week in Texas Politics - April 22, 2016

April 22, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

After weeks of Dan Patrick standing shoulder to shoulder with Ted Cruz in front of every TV news camera on basic cable and Greg Abbott calling for a constitutional convention and publishing a book, Speaker of the House Joe Straus inserted himself into the state’s political process in a manner consistent with his style and his job.

Will Trump Nomination put Texas in Play for the Democrats...In the Long Run?

March 31, 2016
By: 
Joshua Blank
Jim Henson

Donald Trump has repeatedly vexed the expectations and predictions of political observers since his entry into the 2016 presidential field, continuing to do so even as he has becomes the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination – the efforts of Republican elites notwithstanding.

Listen to Pappy O'Daniel, A Texas Progenitor of Donald Trump's Celebrity Populism

March 15, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson

A little less than fourscore years ago, Texas contributed one of the clearest progenitors to Donald Trump's presidential candidacy in the person of W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, who was elected governor of the state in 1938, was reelected in 1940, then elected to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate in a special election in 1941.  (In the Senate victory, he became the only person ever to defeat Lyndon Johnson in an election.)  O'Daniel was a businessman who became a public figure via radio, which he used to advertise flour, first for Burrus Mills and later for his own company, Hillbilly Flour.  Part of his pitch was the use of the Light Crust Dough Boys, the western music band that included Bob Wills and contributed to the creation of Texas Swing, and later the Hillbilly Boys.

The Legend of Texans' Love for Hillary Clinton

March 8, 2016
By: 
Joshua Blank
Jim Henson

As in so many other things in terms of gaining perspective on Hillary Clinton and Texas in the year 2016, it seems that Trump giveth and Trump taketh away. The Texans love Hillary trope is being kept on life support by the potential nomination of Donald Trump, which seems to have rekindled the faint hope among Texas Democrats and various other political observers that his brand of Republicanism might turn Texas blue, if only for the shortest of moments. We have already written that such a hope has little empirical basis in recent polling on attitudes among those in Texas who view Trump unfavorably and expect that he would be a terrible president because these attitudes co-exist with negative views of Clinton that make running away from Trump to Clinton in November highly improbable. Serious hopes for a competitive Texas hinge on some combination of increased Democratic turnout, Republican non-voting, and Republican defections to Clinton making up partisan gaps in the two party vote of over 950,000 in 2008 and more than 1.2 million votes in 2012. (And percentage-wise, a comparable gap in the 2 party vote in 2014 when Gov. Abbott defeated Wendy Davis.)

Few Texans Shedding Tears at Bloomberg's Decision Not to Run For President

March 7, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson

In the Februrary 2016 University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll, neither Democrats nor Republicans had strong positive views of Michael Bloomberg, and many voters had no opinion, suggesting little familiarity with the New York business man and former New York City Mayor who has now ruled out an independent presidential candidacy.  Nor was Bloomberg especially well-regarded among conservatives of any stripe.  Among those who identify as extremely conservative, 52 percent thought he would make a terrible president.  By comparison, only 20 percent of extremely conservative Texans expressed the same judgment about  Donald Trump -- even though both are from New York.  Speaking of that classification system, only 8 percent of the extremely conservative thought Ted Cruz would make a terrible president.https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/set/future-performance-president-donald-trump-february-2016#conservatism

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