Joshua Blank

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like 2018: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics

November 16, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The national media storm over sexual harassment hit Texas this week, which the legislative leadership attempted to act on even as in other corners, some of the same old internecine fights in the GOP played out in the House and on the terrain of the upcoming 2018 primary elections. Congressman Gene Green’s announcement that he wouldn’t seek reelection added another wrinkle in Houston politics, this one among Democrats who are either jumping in to fight for his seat or waiting to see which #txlege competitors create new openings as a result of others' efforts to move up. Meanwhile, events in Congress provided lots of reasons why so many people don’t want to work there anymore, and some are even policy related, like the effort to combine repealing the ACA insurance mandate with the Tax Reform bill. 

Congressional Turnover in Context

November 14, 2017
By: 
Joshua Blank
Lindsay Dun

Democrat Gene Green of Houston's retirement brings the number of Texas legislators not returning to the nation's capitol to six as the filing period for office began over the weekend. While Green is only the second Democrat to announce that he won't be returning to the U.S. House of Representatives (along with Beto O'Rourke, who is instead running to replace Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the upper chamber), each recent announcement by Republican Congressman has resulted in a new round of speculation about what these retirements mean for 2018. The questions are both local – like who is going to fill these seats and how will those replacements reverberate down the ballot – but also global, about the 2018 Election, the Republican Party, and the potential impact of Donald Trump. While these are both interesting and worthy lines of inquiry, a simpler question to ask first is:  what the usual Congressional churn looks like in the Texas delegation?

Suburban swingers shaking Texas marriage to the GOP?

November 14, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Fantasies of widespread voter abandonment of Republicans for Democrats in the Texas suburbs remain far-fetched, but data from the last three University of Texas/Texas Tribune polls does show that suburban attitudes towards President Trump in Texas could become cause for Texas GOP concern if the party continues on its current trajectory.

Transforming the Problem into the Solution

November 7, 2017
By: 
James Henson
Joshua Blank

As the grim particulars of the Sutherland Springs shooting have become known in the days since the incident, the fact that a bystander armed with a rifle of his own shot the perpetrator and gave chase crucially transforms the terrain of the political interpretation of the shootings. The presence of an armed citizen "shooting in the opposite direction," as President Donald Trump put it hours after the killings, activates partisan attitudes about guns in Texas that can be effectively mobilized by advocates and political leaders to stifle discussion of adding even the most mild restrictions on access to, or ownership, of guns. The trope that the best antidote to gun violence by bad (or even sick) people is good people with guns resonates sufficiently with the right audience of Republicans so as to effectively seal off discussions outside the status quo.

Public Opinion on SB4 Provisions as Texas Law Returns to Court Today

November 7, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The UT/Texas Tribune Poll asked about two of the key provisions of SB4 that have been subjects of the litigation under discussion today – the so-called "show me your papers provision" that preserve law enforcement officers' option to ask for proof of citizenship during a legal detainment, and the requirement that local authorities' cooperate and comply with federal immigration law, including detainer requests by Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE).

Taking Texas to Trial: Public Opinion on Texas' High Profile Cases

November 6, 2017
By: 
Joshua Blank
Jim Henson

 When it comes to legal cases in general, and legal rights in particular, it's important to note that public opinion can often act as a poor guide to a just outcome, and in many cases, may have no relevance on particular legal proceedings. With that caveat aside, public opinion is useful in determining how elected officials, including the Attorney General, might react to court decisions, and further, whether the state chooses to push ahead in the legal process in the face of adverse decisions. 

A Milder Shade of Pale: Texas Data Points for the Week in Politics, November 3, 2017

November 3, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

If you're reading this, you probably know someone who's at least talking about running for Lamar Smith's congressional seat, one of three GOP-held seats now without incumbent candidates in 2018 after Smith and Jeb Hensarling announced they'd be exiting Congress stage-right. Governor Greg Abbott braved the moral swamps of Washington, DC to shop around a $61 billion plan for disaster recovery and beyond for Texas. Back at home, application for homeowner buyouts for those on floodplains is outpacing funding for them. In more personality-driven news, Rockwall businessman Scott Milder is challenging Lt. Governor Dan Patrick in the GOP primary, and Rick Perry offered a heretofore unrecognized benefit of fossil fuels to an eager political press corps, who seemed very glad this week that the longest serving governor in Texas history continues serving the public.

Rounding up Lt. Governor Patrick's UT/TT Poll Numbers as a Long Shot Primary Challenger Emerges

November 2, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

 Patrick's job approval numbers among key groups in the October University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll underline the strength of his position with the primary electorate.

Trying to Remember Who Was With Speaker Straus When He Announced He Had the Votes?

October 31, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

On January 5, 2009, Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) held a press conference at the Texas Capitol to announce that he had the votes necessary to make him the Speaker of the Texas House, effectively deposing then-speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland) with the support of a coalition of Democrats and Republicans. He was re-elected speaker by the body for four subsequent sessions.

Straus-apalooza: A Round-up of Data on Speaker Straus and Video of His Appearances at UT Austin

October 25, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus’ announcement that he won’t seek re-election to his House seat will trigger an open race for the speakership while defusing efforts to make Straus himself an issue in the GOP primaries – a tactic that hasn’t work especially well in recent primaries anyway. The speaker will serve out the rest of his term, but on the occasion of the Speaker’s announcement, we've rounded up results on the Speaker’s job approval ratings from the University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll, as well as videos of the three interviews we’ve done with the Speaker during his term (recorded in 2011, 2015, and 2017).  

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