Was the disappointment in O’Rourke’s performance warranted? Even a preliminary look at data from the campaign and election suggests it isn’t.
For years, Texas had a mythical independence that has somehow insulated the state’s culture and its politics from the nasty and increasingly deep-seated divisions that characterize so many other domains of American life. That’s now changed.
Texas, however unique in its own eyes, remains on the American political map, and its nation’s-first primary election expressed some national dynamics — and may provide some lessons, as national attention shifts to primaries elsewhere in the country.
On the Texas side of politics, this week felt like a flashback to last Spring, as the anti-sanctuary city law, the bathroom bill, and the general tone of the 85th Legislature all got rehearings. It’s hard not to feel yet again that there are much bigger goings-on nationally, as students not on spring break staged a national walk-out to protest inaction on gun policy, the Democrats won a squeaker in a Pennsylvania special election, and we discovered what many presupposed, that Special Counsel Mueller has some questions about the Trump business empire and its connections to Russians. Read on for Texas public opinion data linked to some of the big stories from the week in politics.
One might forgive the hyperbole (at least at this early stage) given the national press’s frequent (if not uniform) infatuation with O’Rourke. For a more measured look of where this race starts, data from several University of Texas / Texas Tribune Polls, including the most recent one conducted last month, sheds light on where the two Senate candidates stand among Texas’ voters.
With NPR referencing Texas' first in the nation primary and Chuck Todd using last weekend’s Meet the Press “Data Download” segment to develop his “hunch” about a Democratic wave in Texas based on early voting totals, the Texas primary elections will be in the spotlight this week. The eve of primary election day seems a good time to review the non-trial ballot polling data from the February University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll. We asked several questions unrelated to the horse races – about which attitudes were fairly underdeveloped when we were collecting data, as expected – that provide some information about the political terrain upon which the primaries will be fought by a small sliver of the Texas electorate.
As the party primaries got predictably nasty in the final week of campaigning before the March 6 election, Democratic early voting surged all week, a real phenomena that launched a thousand fundraising emails and at least a few flights of fancy, especially from those who can’t resist trying to turn a good thing into a fantastic thing. Donald Trump and Robert Mueller continued to make headlines, likely deepening the partisan divides in perceptions of their respective endeavors. Continue on for data on public opinion related to the torrent of political events this week, much of it freshly gathered in the latest University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll.
While Texas Democrats may indeed perform better in the 2018 general election compared with their recent performances, historical election data from the past 20 years fails to display any clear relationship between primary participation and general election outcomes in Texas.
Like many of you, we are tracking early voting figures in the 15 counties with the most registered voters, as released by the Secretary of State on a daily basis. Here is our graphical representation of these numbers.
66, 81, 67, -21, 77... and other telling numbers hiding in plain sight in the latest University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll.