Texas politics continued to be roiled by the ongoing national reckoning with sexual misconduct and gender attitudes in the culture this week, from a hearing in the Texas Senate on harassment policy to a couple of men calling it quits, including yet another Congressman, Blake Farenthold. In the policy realm, good stories on the history of the border wall produced by a team of Texas Tribune and ProPublica, and on climate change and Harvey in the Houston Chronicle, remind us all that we can continue to talk about enduring policy issues, though they also point to polarized public attitudes that make any moves on those issues difficult. All this, and, of course, Alabama
As anticipated, the Trump administration has used executive authority to reverse measures implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act that mandate coverage of contraception in most insurance plans. Public attitudes captured in the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll illustrate how the focus on religious exemptions may work to qualify what is otherwise universal support for women having access to contraception.
The first week of the New Year brought with it an unsurprising uptick in political signaling in the run-up to the advent of the 85th Texas Legislature. Speaker Straus gave an interview that sent some selected signals to both legislative chambers, while the Lt. Governor, having released a few lists of priorities before the holiday break, zeroed in on bathroom access Friday. In more indirect moves, Attorney General Ken Paxton released some strong fundraising numbers and an Austin-resident, ABC pundit, and scold of the two parties confirmed rumors that had circulated all through the fall that he was considering running in 2018 as an independent for the Texas Senate seat currently held by Ted Cruz. On the national front, the Senate Armed Services Committee held hearings in which testimony confirmed (along with a newly released report) that US intelligence agencies largely agreed that Russia intervened in the US election with the goals of de-legitimizing the process in the eyes of the world (and, presumably, Americans, it would seem), and also to aid Donald Trump.
In a TribTalk piece this week looking at Donald Trump’s support in Texas as reflected in the most recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, we wrote that “If Trump has a woman problem of his own making, it's not with GOP women in Texas — at least when compared to their brothers, husbands, boyfriends, and fathers.” This conclusion was based on a look at our sample of 269 GOP women, within a larger sample of 1200 registered voters. The perhaps counter-intuitive take away from that brief discussion is that their party loyalty makes Republican women one of Donald Trump’s central assets in Texas, even if there has been some attrition in their support, likely due to the pile of evidence suggesting that he has treated many women very badly, and been recorded talking about it in very crude terms.
Republicans appear poised to again sweep this year's statewide elections. But dig deeper into the data and you'll find faint signs of long-term promise for Texas Democrats, even if their standard-bearer loses in November.
As a group, women have neither followed the March Hare to the Tea Party nor signed up for Wendy Davis’ trip to Wonderland, leaving the campaigns to ponder their place on the electoral chessboard.
While the Hispanic vote has been the focus of much of the analysis of Democrats’ prospects for turning the Republican tide, in the short term, they will almost certainly need to look to suburban women — especially if Wendy Davis is at the top of the ticket.
According to the latest UT/Texas Tribune Poll, rural men and urban women are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to attitudes on gun policy. We may not be talking about Mars and Venus, but we’re close.