Post Date: November 2015
Established patterns in attitudes among Republican voters working in concert with the sense of immediate crisis in the aftermath of Paris are surely fueling the surprising vehemence of the illiberal rhetoric and ideas about that are so at odds with the civil libertarian culture of the country. But the vehemence of this approach and its centrality to the current political debate are the results of political choices, especially those of the candidates vying for the GOP presidential nomination.
The prominent role of a Syrian who was likely never really a refugee, but masqueraded as one to reach Paris in order to play his terrible role there, has created the rhetorical space for a new variation on the immigration and border security trope that appeals to a broad section of Republican voters. The Paris attacks will clearly make national security and counter-terrorism more salient for now – and there was a significant portion of the GOP that saw terrorism as salient before the attack. But the quick incorporation of immigration as a central component of the national GOP response to Paris makes it unlikely that counter-terrorism will gain enough intensity to dislodge immigration in the gut reactions of GOP primary voters. The speed with which this incorporation has occurred suggests that, in fact, it may reinforce these reactions – and their impact on the GOP presidential race.
While a more comprehensive analysis of the 2016 nominating race awaits the public release of the data and crosstabs from the November 2015 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll next week, the weekend pause in the Texas Tribune release schedule invites a few initial observations on the first wave of results.
It was a week in which Texas political headlines were generated by characteristically low-turnout Constitutional and local elections and the release of interim charges by the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives – which is to say, it was a week for insiders.