Donald Trump's failure to handle the COVID-19 pandemic may well have cost him re-election. Now that he's leaving, Greg Abbott - and Texas - have to deal with the GOP denial he's left behind.
Texas COVID-19 cases and early voting are up, support for reducing police funding is down: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, October 16, 2020
Across three Texas polls between April and October, a growing minority of Texans has become less concerned and less cautious even as COVID-19 daily cases persist at mid-June levels
The last three Texas public opinion polls the Texas Politics Project team worked on contained extensive questioning to understand Texans’ attitudes toward policies addressing the pandemic, their perceptions of its effects and seriousness, and their behaviors in response to policies and perceived threats related to COVID-19. The poll conducted in late September and early October in conjunction with The Texas Tribune enables us to begin looking at changes in attitudes over the duration of the pandemic given the timing of our polls (April, June, and September-October). Below are some first looks at how attitudes have moved since the panemic’s early days, through the beginning of the summer wave that saw it’s peaks in new daily cases of 10,791 on July 14 and 275 deaths on July 23 (based on state-compiled data), and into a fall season in which the virus has receded from its peak, but still persists at levels roughly equivalent to mid-June when measured in the level of daily new cases, as illustrated in the chart immediately below.
The release of recordings of conversations between veteran journalist Bob Woodward and President Donald Trump as part of the Washington Post's rollout for Woodward’s second book about Trump, Rage, dominated coverage of politics, Trump, and COVID-19 this week. Senator Corynyn “in retrospect” opined that President Trump just maybe could have trusted the American people with “accurate information." Meanwhile, as part of his effort to get re-elected, Trump this week released a list of potential nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court that included, among other colorful characters, the junior U.S. Senator from Texas that the president used to call "Lyin’ Ted." Back in Ted Cruz’s home state, his former boss, Governor Greg Abbott, continued to avoid undue attention to COVID-19, channelling the president’s political turn to press a law and order argument with a new campaign pledge for Republicans and citizens (validated with your data), and still more proposals designed to punish cities ostensibly not toeing the blue line. And there’s a lot of stress in the state this week as many kids returned to whatever version of school is on offer in their neighborhood. Don’t panic, just read on for more Texas data related to these events from the week in Texas politics.
Polling at both the national level and in Texas have increasingly shown partisan differences in attitudes toward the COVID-19 pandemic and in peoples’ reported behaviors in response to it. But an analysis of data in the June 2020 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll finds evidence of another, potentially surprising political profile distinct from party in COVID responses: Perceptions of threat to White masculinity. The data and discussion that follows demonstrate a strong linkage between the perception of a threat to White masculinity and attitudes toward the coronavirus pandemic. In short: the more an individual believes in the existence of a threat to White masculinity, the more likely that person is to downplay the severity of the virus, to believe it will be resolved quickly, to focus more on the economic than human harm, and are less willing to take part in private activities to stop the spread of the virus.
President Trump took the discussions of mail-in voting through the looking glass when he urged supporters to vote by mail and to vote in person, too. While Attorney General Bill Barr testily and ineffectually tried to clean up Trump’s nihilistic weirdness (by suggesting that what he really meant was that Republicans’ voting by mail “have to go and check their vote by going to the poll and voting that way, because if it tabulates then they won't be able to do that”), Texas Republicans from both the executive and judicial branches were doing their best to stifle the attempted expansion of voting by mail in Harris County. As Trump’s latest election play unfolds in the choppy wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott floated the idea a relaxation of the statewide containment measures after the Labor Day holiday, seemingly not quite taking into account the lag effects in accounting for the community spread we saw after Memorial Day and the Fourth of July weekends earlier this summer, and even as pandemic data collection in Texas continue to leave a lot to be desired. Speaking of data, Comptroller Glen Hegar provided his offices’s regularly scheduled state revenue update, which enables us to look not only at quality monthly data but also provides a look at FY 2019. Much less useful was a recent release of Texas presidential polling, which got us on our soapbox about poll disclosure (sorry, though not a lot). Finally, a Texas Tribune/ProPublica report on the unsurprising news that a section of the border wall paid for as part of the ALLEGED “We Build the Wall” grift is likely to come tumbling down made us recall results from the UT/Texas Tribune Poll back when the wall was a thing. Find polling and other data on these topics in this week's Texas data points...
State Senator Pat Fallon’s Senate seat is not only still warm, it’s not even technically vacated, which made Governor Abbott’s thumb-on-the-scale calling of a snap election for his replacement the major political preoccupation inside the Austin beltway (such as it is) this week. We take a look at the district, presumed frontrunner State Rep. Drew Springer’s positioning there, and possible spoiler Shelly Luther’s potential audience among the Texas GOP. Meanwhile, in Charlotte and on several public properties in the Washington, D.C. area, Donald Trump and his political party attempted to rally fervid Trump Republicans while shoring up some key corners where they fear attrition in November, a tricky task, even if you do have the White House as a backdrop. Hurricane Laura came ashore big, though luckily appears to have inflicted less damage than anticipated. Still, some Texas areas adjacent to the major disaster areas in Western Louisiana were hit hard; we gingerly consider the possible political consequences of the disaster in Texas, along with other data points from the week in politics.
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.