Keyword: Donald Trump
The state’s political leadership moved this week to publicly acknowledge what reporters at some of the major dailies have been saying for weeks now: the use of emergency leave as severance pay by another name (mostly) is a thing, and not a good one. Depending on your perspective, Speaker Straus either sent up a trial balloon or invested a little political capital in an agenda setting move as the 85th Legislature looms a little closer on the horizon. Speaking of trial balloons, Hillary Clinton launched a big blue one in a reference to competing in Texas in a very good long read profile in New York Magazine, triggering a renewed discussion of her prospects in the land of Hill & Bill’s McGovernite youth as well renewed attention the headaches and heartburn Donald Trump’s approach to Hispanic outreach is causing in the GOP. Conservative opinion leader Bill Kristol’s search for a conservative alternative to Trump in the presidential has apparently led him to one David French. Sadly, there was another shooting on a college campus, which resonated, if probably only briefly, with the ongoing movement in Texas toward the August 1 implementation of campus carry policies on Texas campuses.
While there was plenty going in Texas politics this week, it’s all secondary to Donald Trump taking the wheel of the national Republican Party while the kids fight in the back seat. Ted Cruz had a bigger taste of the presidential race than almost anyone expected, and is likely to come back to Texas, on balance, an enhanced political figure in his party. He’ll look even better if the Trump candidacy is a disaster for the GOP, though it would have to be some kind of meltdown for Trump to make Hillary Clinton a real contender in Texas. Not all Republicans will be on board, though the Governor and Lt. Governor ripped the Band Aid off quickly and endorsed Trump. Others Republicans have chosen to pick at those scabs.
A little less than fourscore years ago, Texas contributed one of the clearest progenitors to Donald Trump's presidential candidacy in the person of W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, who was elected governor of the state in 1938, was reelected in 1940, then elected to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate in a special election in 1941. (In the Senate victory, he became the only person ever to defeat Lyndon Johnson in an election.) O'Daniel was a businessman who became a public figure via radio, which he used to advertise flour, first for Burrus Mills and later for his own company, Hillbilly Flour. Part of his pitch was the use of the Light Crust Dough Boys, the western music band that included Bob Wills and contributed to the creation of Texas Swing, and later the Hillbilly Boys.
As in so many other things in terms of gaining perspective on Hillary Clinton and Texas in the year 2016, it seems that Trump giveth and Trump taketh away. The Texans love Hillary trope is being kept on life support by the potential nomination of Donald Trump, which seems to have rekindled the faint hope among Texas Democrats and various other political observers that his brand of Republicanism might turn Texas blue, if only for the shortest of moments. We have already written that such a hope has little empirical basis in recent polling on attitudes among those in Texas who view Trump unfavorably and expect that he would be a terrible president because these attitudes co-exist with negative views of Clinton that make running away from Trump to Clinton in November highly improbable. Serious hopes for a competitive Texas hinge on some combination of increased Democratic turnout, Republican non-voting, and Republican defections to Clinton making up partisan gaps in the two party vote of over 950,000 in 2008 and more than 1.2 million votes in 2012. (And percentage-wise, a comparable gap in the 2 party vote in 2014 when Gov. Abbott defeated Wendy Davis.)
In the Februrary 2016 University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll, neither Democrats nor Republicans had strong positive views of Michael Bloomberg, and many voters had no opinion, suggesting little familiarity with the New York business man and former New York City Mayor who has now ruled out an independent presidential candidacy. Nor was Bloomberg especially well-regarded among conservatives of any stripe. Among those who identify as extremely conservative, 52 percent thought he would make a terrible president. By comparison, only 20 percent of extremely conservative Texans expressed the same judgment about Donald Trump -- even though both are from New York. Speaking of that classification system, only 8 percent of the extremely conservative thought Ted Cruz would make a terrible president.https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/set/future-performance-president-donald-trump-february-2016#conservatism
In short: no.
Renewed fears of terrorist attacks and a fiercely competitive Republican presidential nominating contest have brought to the surface a set of nativist attitudes that have not received such full-throated expression in American politics for at least several decades.
With voters across Texas casting their ballots today, we thought it would be useful to see what different groups of voters are prioritizing when making their ultimate decision. To do this, we asked likely primary voters in each party, "What's most important: picking the candidate best prepared to...," and gave them nine response options meant to illicit the major themes and arguments of the 2016 primary elections for both the Democrats and the Republicans. Explore the results for likely Republican Primary voters.