Texas COVID-19 cases and early voting are up, support for reducing police funding is down: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, October 16, 2020

After a week of rolling out results from the October 2020 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll and two longer explorations of Texas attitudes toward the conduct of the election and the COVID-19 pandemic, this week’s data points piece is more on the listicle side than usual. But as always, there was a lot in the news this week, and we have a lot of new data that provides the perspective of Texans’ opinions on that news.

1. The early voting numbers for the first week of voting have been record-breaking in many parts of the state. Most Texans told us they planned to vote early, and so far many are following through.

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Vote in person on Election Day26%
Vote in person early60%
Vote by mail13%
Do not intend to vote0%
Don't know1%

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Vote in person on Election Day15%28%33%
Vote in person early59%60%61%
Vote by mail25%7%5%
Don't know1%5%0%

2. A recycled fake-news story on the Biden family and the Ukraine published by the New York Daily News and pulled by Facebook and Twitter (albeit using different protocols, per Axios) has drawn attention to how tech and social media companies manage misinformation and (more importantly) disinformation. The view that misinformation on social media is a serious problem in the 2020 election was one of the few points of agreement in the October UT/Texas Tribune Poll.

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Extremely serious62%
Somewhat serious20%
Not too serious9%
Not at all serious4%
Don't know5%

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Extremely serious65%51%61%
Somewhat serious22%18%18%
Not too serious6%11%11%
Not at all serious3%6%5%
Don't know4%15%4%

3. Texas’ rising coronavirus hospitalizations fueled fears of another surge in cases throughout much of the week, including in a story published early Friday in The Texas Tribune. Three polls we’ve conducted in Texas (two in partnership with the above-mentioned Texas Tribune) have yielded data that illustrates relaxed attitudes and behaviors toward the virus – which would seem to be prime suspects for the phenomenon in the story — if not the trends in infections more broadly. We gathered a lot of this evidence in a Thursday post, but a couple of highlights below.

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Living normally, coming and going as usual10%24%41%
Still leaving my residence, but being careful when I do38%43%41%
Only leaving my residence when I absolutely have to50%30%18%
Not leaving home2%2%1%

COVID Case Counts and Public Opinion in Texas


Polling Data

Month Cumulative Daily New Cases by Month Polling Field Dates % Saying Covid is a "significant crisis" % "extremely" or "very" worried about commnuity spread % "extremely" or "very" worried about contraction
March 3,212        
April 24,821 4/10 - 4/19 66% 54% 54%
May 36,200        
June 95,699 6/19 - 6/29 57% 47% 48%
July 261,876        
August 182,165        
September 99.383 9/25 - 10/4 53% 40% 44%

COVID Data (column 2) was collected by TX2036, accumulated from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Polling data includes the April University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll; June University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll; and October University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll

4. Political TV this week was dominated by the Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Attitudes toward the big institutional questions that dominated the run-up to the hearing — like whether the nomination should even take place before the election – foreshadowed the assumption underlying everyone’s approach to this week’s proceedings: Partisanship makes her confirmation a done deal.

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The Senate should vote on President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court.10%35%81%
The Senate should only vote on President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court if he wins the 2020 election.77%38%12%
Don't know/No opinion13%27%7%

5. Despite what you may have heard, America is not a (physical) hellscape, and Democrats don’t want to defund the police. In short, when asked how safe they feel in the neighborhoods where they live, the vast majority of Texans said that they feel safe — with notable differences in how safe among different groups that we’ll save for another post. In what must be a completely unrelated note, the majority of Texans would prefer that we either leave spending on police budgets unchanged, or increase them — this includes Democrats, FWIW.

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Very safe44%
Somewhat safe46%
Somewhat unsafe7%
Very unsafe3%
Don't know/No opinion1%

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Very safe30%47%54%
Somewhat safe58%43%34%
Somewhat unsafe10%6%5%
Very unsafe2%2%5%
Don't know/No opinion1%2%1%

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Increased a lot18%
Increased a little24%
Stay about the same32%
Decreased a little11%
Decreased a lot8%
Don't know/No opinion8%

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Increased a lot6%10%29%
Increased a little14%19%34%
Stay about the same35%38%28%
Decreased a little20%10%3%
Decreased a lot15%9%2%
Don't know/No opinion10%13%4%