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The Political Geography of Hurricane Harvey

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Eventually politics will return to discussions of how much money to spend on disaster recovery in the wake of Hurricane Harvey --  where it comes from, how it’s distributed, and who gets how much (some might simply call this politics). In thinking about that eventuality, we’ve produced some maps that combine the counties designated as disaster areas by Governor Greg Abbott with district boundaries for the Texas House and Senate, as well as the party affiliation of the legislators and members in those areas. (This meant jamming a lot in these maps and we’re not cartographers – we’re happy to receive suggestions and corrections – and if you would like to use any of the maps, feel free to download and distribute.) (And also, read on, there's more after the maps.)

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Public Attitudes Toward Immigration and Responses to Trump’s DACA Moves in the Texas GOP

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The public responses among Texas’ political leadership and in the interest group universe toward Donald Trumps zig-zag moves on DACA largely reflect the sharp cleavage between Democratic and Republican voters on issues related to immigration, as well as conveying the more subtle divisions among different groups in the GOP coalition. 

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The Inconvenient Role of Texas Public Opinion in This Week's SB 4 Ruling

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

On August 30, a federal court in San Antonio issued a temporary injunction halting the September 1 implementation of part of Senate Bill 4, the so-called anti-Sanctuary Cities bill passed during the regular session amid much controversy, including heated confrontation on the floor of the Texas House on the last day of business. The decision temporarily blocked implementation of provisions designed to force local authorities to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and to mete out various punishments to local governments and specific individuals that enact policies limiting enforcement and cooperation, but let stand the provision guaranteeing the ability of law enforcement officers to inquire about the citizenship status of anyone they have lawfully detained.  In the June 2017 University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll, we asked Texans about the two sets of provisions treated in this week's decision. To the extent that concern might be thought of as overwhelming, it was not in the direction the ruling took.

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A Quick Look at Donald Trump's Texas Poll Numbers as He Visits in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey

| By: Jim Henson

Donald Trump will make a presidential visit to Texas to survey the damage wrought by Harvey – reports say he will visit Corpus Christi – and to drop in on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s operations center in Austin. We last polled Texans’ attitudes toward the president in the June 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. For a compendium of every poll item related to Trump going back to the 2016 primary and campaign, see this search result in our poll archive. 

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Subtweeting the 85th Texas Legislature

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Most of the post-session coverage among the Texas political press has predictably focused on the politics of the big three and how much (or how little) of Greg Abbott’s agenda was acted on by the Legislature – coverage led by public signalling from both the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. But a look at some of the lower profile aspects across the arc of both the regular and special sessions of the 85th Legislature reveals a lot about the nature of the for-now dormant legislature and, more broadly, Texas politics as the political mix shifts more heavily toward electoral politics.

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Slouching Toward Sine Die: A Special Session Driven by Party Politics, Not Public Demand

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The lowered expectations for the special session make sense if one looks at conservative and Republican attitudes toward the legislature and statewide leaders at the conclusion of the regular session of the 85th Legislature. While Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and the leadership of some of the state’s most vocal conservative interest groups have either suggested or implied widespread public demand for more action, polling suggests significant conservative contentment with the results of the 85th – and thus, little active demand for more legislation from the legislature at this time. 

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The People's Agenda: Notes on Public Opinion and the Special Session Call

| By: Joshua Blank

With the passage of Sunset Legislation out of the Senate, Governor Greg Abbott kept his promise this morning, adding 19 items to the Special Session call, and opening the doors for a more entertaining (if politics is where you find your entertainment) July and August than many of us would have expected at the start of the 85th Session.

Below is a list of the added items and, where available, any relevant public opinion data from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, with links to graphics of cross-tabulations for each item.

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First-Take Notes on Messaging and Politics in Lt. Governor Patrick’s Public Ed Presser

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s press conference today was a  textbook Patrick effort to garner media coverage in order to shape the legislative agenda after several weeks marked by the relatively predictable public assertions of Governor Abbott. The overall effort was geared at delivering a Republican approach to public education after a session in which Patrick and his allies focused primarily on creating a means of funneling public funds to private and parochial schools in the name of “school choice” as their major approach to improving public education.  Here are some of the messaging components in the press conference, with some notes on how these messages might fall in the public opinion landscape among Texas Republicans.

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Governor Abbott's Job Approval as He Announces Re-Election Run

| By: Joshua Blank

Greg Abbott is expected to announce his intention to seek a second term as Governor tomorrow in San Antonio. In addition to what is already a formidable war chest of more than $34 million (with an increase in that number expected to be announced soon as well), Abbott also has high job approval ratings among the state's Republican majority. 

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Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics: “OMG, The New Yorker is Paying Attention to Us!” Edition

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The Fourth of July came and went this week, and by Thursday the invocation of self-evident truths had given way to the U.S. Department of Justice deeming Senate Bill 5 a good enough fix to the deficiencies in Texas' voter ID law. The center right and leftward embraced Lawrence Wright's telling of the tale of the 85th Legislature in The New Yorker, which at 20,000 words or so had lots of space for close observations by a good writer, though the actual argument about Texas and the U.S. promised in the hed ("America's Future is Texas") seemingly remains to be made in the forthcoming book.

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