As the Labor Day weekend and the symbolic start of the Fall election campaign season nears, some comments and data on voting, the return of sanctuary cities, and, of course, immigration and border security, including Donald Trumps Wonderful Wednesday.
We close the week out with a final nod to Donald Trump’s visit to Austin and its intersection with politics and public opinion in Texas. Next week, we’ll return to at least some non-Trump related observations. Probably.
The combination of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign with the United Kingdom’s dramatic vote for “Brexit” from the European Union has brought renewed attention to the populist-tinged brew of nationalism and nativism flowing through Trump’s rhetoric as he competes for the presidency.
Results from the June 2016 University of Texas / Texas Politics Project Poll reveal a thirst for such rhetoric in attitudes toward immigration, international trade, U.S. involvement in foreign countries, and even for more specific appeals identified with Donald Trump, such as building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and banning non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States.
While we found the most recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll chock full of fascinating results on attitudes toward issues that illuminate much of the recent political discussion in the 2016 races in both Texas and the U.S., with the Texas primary coming up Tuesday it seems appropriate to look at some of the undercurrents of the results from the trial ballots in the presidential nominating contests, including Cruz's standing with extremely conservative voters as well as some slippage in his standing, the Clinton-Sanders race, Texans' views of outsiders, and more.
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.
Halloween is upon us, but it's already been a scary week for Jeb Bush and homeowners thinking about their property tax bills – but Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are trying their best to calm everyone down. Calm by nature, Dr. Ben Carson started the week off early causing a stir with his proclamation that he's against abortion in cases of rape and incest, while two of Texas politics' more animated politicians – Dan Patrick and Ted Cruz – essentially endorsed each other. Both Patrick and Governor Abbott also endorsed the legislature preventing so-called sanctuary cities in Texas, but not enough to require legislators to haunt Austin in a special session. Finally, President Obama followed the lead of Texas in pressing for a reduction in standardized testing – a treat for kids and their parents, who increasingly told pollsters they find frequent high stakes testing pretty ghastly.
The presence of Texas candidates for speaker notwithstanding, Paul Ryan decided he would take a stab at the least attractive job in American politics this week, leaving the state to make national news not by putting a Texan in the Speaker’s chair but by pushing the GOP’s ongoing attack on Planned Parenthood to a new level. Texas ideas nonetheless had their day in the Congress, as the Senate tried and failed to take up anti-Sanctuary City legislation. David Vitter at least probably appreciated the effort, but 2011 called and they want their issue back. In the presidential arena, House Republicans teamed up with Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb to give the Clinton campaign a good week, while over in the GOP George W. Bush is So. Over. Ted. Cruz. And wants you to know it, apparently. It didn’t seem, however, to do much good, as the GOP 2016 stories at week's end were about Carson surpassing Trump in Iowa polling while the Jeb! campaign moved to cut payroll costs.
Lt. Governor Patrick's interim charges represent a potpourri of issues ranging from the unsung operational stuff of government to the more provocative issues that rouse the GOP's voting base. University of Texas/Texas Tribune Polling suggests that the GOP primary electorate is much less interested in the details of issues like water and electricity than they are in issues like immigration, border security, and the vociferous protection and expansion of gun rights.
Speaker Boehner’s exit, Pope Francis’s speech to Congress, Jeb Bush’s comments on immigration in Houston, the legal and political wrangle over HHS spending on therapy for poor and disabled children, and Governor Scott Walker’s departure from the Republican presidential nomination race