Joshua Blank

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.

Differences in Party Unity Will Likely Trim GOP Margin in Texas Presidential Race

November 8, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

While Republicans still outnumber Democrats in the electorate that we should expect to show up in a presidential election in Texas, going into Election Day, there are signs of a shift toward a historically smaller GOP margin of victory in the contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for the state's electoral votes. The October 2016 University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll also provides some insights into the different levels of unity among Democratic and Republican voters that also portends a better year for Democrats compared to a number of election cycles, though not an outright upset.

Republican Women in Texas and Donald Trump: It’s Complicated

November 4, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

In a TribTalk piece this week looking at Donald Trump’s support in Texas as reflected in the most recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, we wrote that “If Trump has a woman problem of his own making, it's not with GOP women in Texas — at least when compared to their brothers, husbands, boyfriends, and fathers.” This conclusion was based on a look at our sample of 269 GOP women, within a larger sample of 1200 registered voters. The perhaps counter-intuitive take away from that brief discussion is that their party loyalty makes Republican women one of Donald Trump’s central assets in Texas, even if there has been some attrition in their support, likely due to the pile of evidence suggesting that he has treated many women very badly, and been recorded talking about it in very crude terms.

A Quick Review of Fox Latino’s Evidence-Bereft Update on Ted Cruz’s Standing in Texas

October 28, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

A story published on the Fox Latino website about Sen. Ted Cruz headlined “Ted Cruz Puts His Popularity on the Line” speculates a plenty based on quotes from Republicans in Texas, but doesn’t bother to consider any bit of the considerable amount of evidence one might bring to bear on the premise – presumably because the most recent evidence points in the opposite direction, rendering said premise contentious at best and an example of manufacturing a storyline at worst.

Leaning or Tossed Up? Three Scenarios for Texas Based on the Presidential Polls

October 27, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

As we anticipate the results of the election, we can construct 3 different scenarios envisioning different election results in Texas. A “business-as-usual” scenario anticipates the election following typical characteristics and dynamics of Texas elections; another scenario might give more emphasis to some of the distinctive, specific factors that seem at play in this election as evidenced in recent poll results; and an X-factor scenario that might emphasize the possibility of a very significant divergence from patterns both recent polling and history have led us to expect.

Some Back of the Envelope Ciphering On Clinton's Chances in Texas

October 20, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

With final voter registration numbers counted and new polls showing a narrowing race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, it seems a good time for some back of the envelope arithmetic on the prospects of a Clinton victory. There is no high falutin modeling at work here – just some rough calculations about how much the Texas vote would have to differ from the last few presidential elections for Hillary Clinton to get more votes than Donald Trump. Our goal is to paint as rosy a scenario for Clinton as possible to get her over the line in Texas, albeit without requiring a total suspension of disbelief.

Whatever the polling is telling us, It turns out that the voting scenario has to be very rosy for Clinton to gain Texas’ electoral votes.

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