Keyword: Democratic Party
For those who focus on the historical arc of partisan competition in Texas politics, it’s hard not to cast independents as somewhere between the ultimate anti-heroes and a group of extras and bit players suddenly thrust into the spotlight in the drama of 2020. For the better part of the last two decades of Texas elections, political independents were, if not irrelevant, at least a pretty distant thought in handicapping election outcomes. The increased level of competition in races, both statewide, but especially down ballot in 2018, the consistently tight margins in polling on the presidential race in Texas, and the inherent unpredictability of independents as a group have suddenly made them the focus of both campaigns and those who prognosticate about them. That unpredictability makes it very tough to anticipate their impact on this, or any, election. But as polling shows a large group of them soured on Donald Trump, the preferences of independents now loom large over the 2020 contests in Texas.
A quick primary election day look at Texas Democrats' and Republicans' ideological assessments of their elected officials
With at least some Texans going to the polls to vote in primary elections, it's a good time to take a look at the ideological orientation of Texas partisans. In a piece in the Texas Tribune yesterday, we looked at the ideological dispositions of Texas Democrats in the context of the Democratic presidential nominating contest. That exercise informed (some of) the selection of the particular data snapshots presented below (like the perhaps suprising results from Democrats by location and age). But with the related processes of ideological sorting and increased polarization taking place in Texas (as in much of the rest of the US) and a number of contested primary races in Congressional and state legislative seats taking place, it's worth revisiting the state of ideological play in both parties – particularly given that judgements about the liberalism of Democratic voters and the conservatism of Repulican voters in the state will be part of the unfolding punditry and post-election analysis over the next 48 hours.
Pete Buttigieg's suspension of his presidential nomination campaign has drawn attention from Texas observers and reporters to the second choices of Buttigieg resopndents in Texas polling, which tend not to be included in default cross tab files. Rice University's Mark Jones is a principal in the team that conducted the the Hobby School of Public Affairs poll (along with Renée Cross, Jim Granato, and Agustín Vallejo), and tweeted their Buttigieg second choices a bit ago. To save everybody some time, here are Buttigieg second choices from that poll and the February University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Per the table, field dates overlapped some in February, with the usual noise of ongoing events to be taken into consideration. (And if you're involved with any of the other polls that have come out in the intervening period, feel free to email us and we'll add your data with a link to you poll, too.)
At this, admittedly, extremely early stage in the process, let’s take a look at where each stands among Texas voters, and in particular, Texas Democrats and liberals ahead of the first Democratic debates.
Was the disappointment in O’Rourke’s performance warranted? Even a preliminary look at data from the campaign and election suggests it isn’t.
On the Texas side of politics, this week felt like a flashback to last Spring, as the anti-sanctuary city law, the bathroom bill, and the general tone of the 85th Legislature all got rehearings. It’s hard not to feel yet again that there are much bigger goings-on nationally, as students not on spring break staged a national walk-out to protest inaction on gun policy, the Democrats won a squeaker in a Pennsylvania special election, and we discovered what many presupposed, that Special Counsel Mueller has some questions about the Trump business empire and its connections to Russians. Read on for Texas public opinion data linked to some of the big stories from the week in politics.
Fantasies of widespread voter abandonment of Republicans for Democrats in the Texas suburbs remain far-fetched, but data from the last three University of Texas/Texas Tribune polls does show that suburban attitudes towards President Trump in Texas could become cause for Texas GOP concern if the party continues on its current trajectory.
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.
Polling data suggests that the quest for party unity driving both party conventions over the last two weeks entails more complex challenges for Republicans than for Democrats in Texas. As Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman nominated by a major party for the presidency, she remains polarizing in Texas even though there is a gender gap in assessments of her. Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday night drew rave reviews from Democrats and even a few Republicans, and could even help rally the troops among Texas Democrats still simmering for Sanders. In advance of campus carry going into effect on public universities around the state (the legislature helpfully allowed private universities to opt out), we also provide some polling data on campus carry and feelings about safety. Probably not as helpful as signage, but we’re doing the best we can – as did several others in the state as they rolled out some great exercises in providing useful public data this week.
The post-New Hampshire exits of Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie are unlikely to cause major movements in Texas, but the struggles of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to expand their appeals to young people and racial and ethnic minorities, respectively, will be major factors in the Texas Democratic Primary. Down ballot in Texas, this week saw the factional conflicts in the Texas GOP continue to approach the boiling point as candidates released videos and oppo hits as March 1 approaches. Attorney General Ken Paxton, of course, isn’t worried at all about the indictments piling up against him, but nonetheless is probably glad that he’s not on the ballot right this minute. Amidst all the complex cross currents in Texas right now, The New York Times op-ed page is pretty clearly not very concerned about the details. Proceed for relevant Texas data and a few thoughts on the week in politics.