Joshua Blank

The Republican National Convention Through the Eyes of Texas Republicans, via the Texas Politics Project Poll Data Archive

August 24, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

In advance of the convention’s effort to mobilize voters behind the top of the ticket while finding the sweet spot between defining and channeling the mood and agenda for GOP campaigns across the country, we’ve gathered public opinion data on Texans’ attitudes. As both the base and the broader electorate spend the week receiving the messages transmitted by the national party via the convention, we’ve focused on Texas Republicans and conservatives, though where appropriate have also included independents, moderates, and the occasional snapshot of the broader electorate. 

Graphical Results of the Texas House Administration Committee COVID-19 Member Questionnaire

August 20, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

On August 14, the Chairman of the House Administration Committee, State Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Ft. Worth), released the results of a survey of House Members' responses to a range of questions about the operation of the House in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A copy of the results was published by Harvey Kronberg's Quorum Report the same day. The questionaire was made up of 38 questions, including 13 open-ended items. We've created graphics for most of the responses, including the open-ended responses, which were coded into categories when appropriate. (Some of the questions were simply general inquiries.) Each graphic below includes the question and the number of respondents to that item. Based on the released results, 116 of the 150 House members responded at least partially to the questionnaire, though not all of the respondents answered all 38 questions.

The Democratic Electorate, Not Moderation, Makes Harris a Safe VP Pick for Texas

August 12, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The consensus of the day-one media response to Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential running mate has been “historic but safe”: Historic because she is both the first black and first Asian American woman on a major party presidential ticket, and “safe” because of Harris’ more moderate profile relative to the sustained energy among Democratic activists during the Democratic primary that ultimately pitted Biden against more progressive alternatives. Whatever the adjustments required of the progressive cadres in the Democratic primary, in terms of the general election, she makes it harder for the Trump campaign’s already commenced (and sure to continue) red-baiting smears to stick among the increasingly narrow band of undecided voters. 

Biden’s selection of Harris rightly is being taken as a sign of a decisive shift in the Democratic Party that has been a long time coming. To the extent that Democrats’ much-discussed efforts to hasten Texas’s transformation into a consistently competitive state rely primarily on mobilizing Democratic voters, there is a lot of Kamala Harris’ demographic profile in the Democratic electorate in Texas. 

Data Points from the Week in Texas Politics (August 7, 2020)

August 7, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The week started with the Comptroller releasing revenue numbers that invited cherry picking by the desperate, manipulative, and just plain inattentive. But they weren’t really very sweet if you looked closely. Governor Abbott held events and press conferences on two separate days as he continued his attempts to manage the COVID-19 crisis and the  politics surrounding it, which have not gotten any easier, as illustrated by the fact that he got sued this week by five legislators ostensibly on his team. Those legislators are a thorn in the governor’s side, but the whole affair points to the larger question of whether we can expect to see a less obstructionist, more constructive vision of the role of the legislature restore some balance between the two main branches of government in 2021. Part of the answer to this question depends heavily on the outcome of the 2020 election. Speaking of the election, we very seriously doubt that Donald Trump’s efforts to persuade Black voters to take another look at him as a candidate, while claiming that he is more of a civil rights hero than John Lewis, are going to help him move his lopsided numbers among Black Texans. 

Data Points from the Week in Texas Politics (July 31, 2020)

July 31, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Official economic data released Thursday confirmed what millions of Americans and Texans already knew from experience – that giant sucking sound in everyone’s ears is coming from the contraction of the economy. The same day (what a coincidence!), the president’s Tweet about delaying the November election, and the immediate frenzied responses, had a similar sucking effect. By comparison, Governor Greg Abbott’s addition of another week to the early voting period and an ever-so-slight relaxation of the vote-by-mail rules was a gentle whisper in the ear of the electorate (“I care…”). The Attorney General’s message to local health authorities was decidedly less gentle. Meanwhile, the legislature – remember them? – is getting antsy about how to manage the practical matters of what everybody realizes is going to be a miserable, fiscally strapped session in 2021 no matter how many people they have an excuse to keep out of their offices. And, well, Congressman Louis Gohmert. Read on for public opinion data on all this and more.

Texans' views of Donald Trump as he returns for events in West Texas

July 29, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

President Donald Trump returns to Texas Wednesday for a fundraising event in Odessa and, per press reports, to "tour an oil rig in Midland." Per our usual practice, we've rounded up various polling results capturing Texans' views of the president to provide context for his visit, which comes less than 100 days before voters decide whether to award him with another term. 

Amidst growing support for removing Confederate monuments, resistance remains strong in corners of the Texas GOP

July 27, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

UT polls conducted in 2017 and 2020 captured a general shift away from support for leaving these Confederate monuments on public property unaltered, and a shift to majority support for moving them in 2020. Yet within this overall pattern of change suggesting more support for moving the monuments, the makings of significant conflict remain in evidence. There are important differences among different social groups that form along partisan, generational, and racial lines — and significant pockets of opposition seemingly colored by racial animus and a rejection of the otherwise growing recognition of the history and legacy of racism in the U.S. —  and in Texas. We examine these findings in detail below, with some discussion following. To summarize: Changes in Texas attitudes have been significant, but the group patterns within these changes suggest that visitors shouldn’t expect to see any empty pedestals or blank wall spaces next time they are allowed to tour the Capitol grounds. 

As Cornyn and Hegar take the stage, has the script for the U.S. Senate campaign in Texas changed?

July 16, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Bereft of a candidate with statewide stature and drowned out by the roar of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic calamity, the statewide run-off election to choose a Democratic nominee to challenge John Cornyn’s bid for a fourth term in the U.S. Senate limped to a conclusion Tuesday night, when self-declared outsider M.J. Hegar defeated longtime State Senator Royce West of Dallas by about 4 percentage points. The Texas-politics-as usual feel of this likely evasion, amplified by such a radically changed political environment  – the renewed confrontation with racism, the pandemic, the associated economic crash – raise a question: Do fundamental assumptions about both candidates’ positioning made in the early stages of the campaign last year still work for them? 

The Mood in the State as (Some) Texans Vote in Primary Run-Offs

July 14, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

While we should expect only a very small fraction of the eligible electorate, or even of registered voters, to show up for run-off elections, there is a pretty good crop of run-off races for party nominations. The composition of the electorate is the big unknown here, which has made any early public polling in these races difficult, and, in particular, has contributed to making the public polling in the U.S. Senate run-off a pretty speculative enterprise. But we do have a lot of data from the University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll conducted very recently (June 19-29), as well as a lot of comparison and trend data, to illustrate the volatile and generally worried mood of the electorate. 

Can Republican Leaders in Texas Break with Trump on COVID-19 Before It’s Too Late?

July 10, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The effort to mobilize as many Texans as possible to support necessary public health measures to contain the pandemic will be hurt if Republicans are demonized as not participating in the effort by virtue of their political party. It’s simply not the case.

But that said, the share of Republican voters whose attitudes about the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic reflect a minimalist view of the risks associated with the virus, and whose reported behavior reflects a rejection of the containment measures being urged by public health authorities, did grow substantially between April and June. 

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