Keyword: Republican Party
The lowered expectations for the special session make sense if one looks at conservative and Republican attitudes toward the legislature and statewide leaders at the conclusion of the regular session of the 85th Legislature. While Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and the leadership of some of the state’s most vocal conservative interest groups have either suggested or implied widespread public demand for more action, polling suggests significant conservative contentment with the results of the 85th – and thus, little active demand for more legislation from the legislature at this time.
The June 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll underlined both the Lt. Governor’s success at getting his name out there, but also the continuing strength of a better known Governor. An increase in the salience of legislative efforts to regulate transgender people’s access to bathrooms among conservatives in the GOP is a testament, though, to Patrick’s ability to capture the imagination of his base. Or maybe it’s hearts and minds, judging by some of the patterns of support for another conservative cause, so-called conscience exemptions. You don’t need to practice much pattern recognition, though, to pick up on the odd fact that, for all the declarations that some people in the legislature let conservatives down in the 85th, the Tea Party faction seems pretty pleased with the achievements of the legislature and its leadership. One thing no one seems interested in is throwing legal voters in jail, even if they fail to use their photo id when they vote. Seems there are limits after all.
As the bill meant to repeal Obamacare faces a close floor vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, results from the February 2017 University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll illustrate the cross currents in the Republican Party that are forcing Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump to furiously whip the first major vote of the new administration.
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.
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.
The week saw the stirring of politics in Texas not reducible to the ever-more-weird presidential race, as Texas’ voter ID law was back in the news after the state was forced into an agreement that was a de facto recognition of the law’s shaky constitutional status. Another shaky Texas political arrangement – the system of financing public education – and the polarized political responses that have stymied progress on revamping it, were also on display in a long meeting of the Senate Education Committee.The week saw the stirring of politics in Texas not reducible to the ever-more-weird presidential race, as Texas’ voter ID law was back in the news after the state was forced into an agreement that was a de facto recognition of the law’s shaky constitutional status. Another shaky Texas political arrangement – the system of financing public education – and the polarized political responses that have stymied progress on revamping it, were also on display in a long meeting of the Senate Education Committee.
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 Republican National Convention in Cleveland delivered on the promise of conflict and drama, even if it fell short on the promised A-list celebrities and athletes. The Trump coronation tapped into many currents of public opinion evident in Texas, including pessimism about the state of the country, shifting views of the United States’ role in the world, and the balance of threat and opportunity for us "out there."
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.
The Texas political world is all in a tizzy this week after Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses, using a combination of evangelical support, streamlined political science, crack campaign organization, and, of course, charm. Seems a sure thing that Marco Rubio will make a play in Texas, and to this end he announced his “Texas Leadership Team". Speaking of wanting to lead, aspiring Texas GOP-chair Jared Woodfill announced while on his day job that his client, the fake fetal tissue dealer David Daleiden of Planned-Parenthood-sting-gone-wrong fame, would not take a plea deal offered by the Harris County DA, presumably at least in part to use the trial as a forum to air his views on abortion (after all, he’s an activist). For those who really want the inside baseball on abortion politics, theDallas Morning News took a good look at the competing anti-abortion groups in Texas, pegging the story of dueling defenders of all things life to their taking sides in the fight between Pro-Straus and anti-Straus forces in the GOP primary. Their struggle inspired us to include a bonus video.