The week started with the Comptroller releasing revenue numbers that invited cherry picking by the desperate, manipulative, and just plain inattentive. But they weren’t really very sweet if you looked closely. Governor Abbott held events and press conferences on two separate days as he continued his attempts to manage the COVID-19 crisis and the politics surrounding it, which have not gotten any easier, as illustrated by the fact that he got sued this week by five legislators ostensibly on his team. Those legislators are a thorn in the governor’s side, but the whole affair points to the larger question of whether we can expect to see a less obstructionist, more constructive vision of the role of the legislature restore some balance between the two main branches of government in 2021. Part of the answer to this question depends heavily on the outcome of the 2020 election. Speaking of the election, we very seriously doubt that Donald Trump’s efforts to persuade Black voters to take another look at him as a candidate, while claiming that he is more of a civil rights hero than John Lewis, are going to help him move his lopsided numbers among Black Texans.
For this week's Second Reading Podcast, Jim Henson and Jonathan Tilove, Chief Political Writer of the Austin American Statesman, discuss his recent interview with Governor Greg Abbott and his appraisal of the path of the Governor's handling of the pandemic recently published in the Austin American Statesman.
President Donald Trump’s assertion via Twitter that “Universal Mail-In Voting” will make 2020 “the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT ELECTION in history” was certainly well-received in corners of the Texas Republican Party that Trump needs to mobilize to remain competitive in November. He has Republican allies in state government that have succeeded in blocking the expansion of voting by mail in the courts, and voters who support such efforts: In the June 2020 Texas Politics Project poll, 72% of Texas Republicans opposed allowing all Texans to vote by mail in response to the pandemic; only 21% of Texas Republicans favored it, with only 7% on the fence. But skepticism of elections runs much deeper, and predates Trump's presidency.
Official economic data released Thursday confirmed what millions of Americans and Texans already knew from experience – that giant sucking sound in everyone’s ears is coming from the contraction of the economy. The same day (what a coincidence!), the president’s Tweet about delaying the November election, and the immediate frenzied responses, had a similar sucking effect. By comparison, Governor Greg Abbott’s addition of another week to the early voting period and an ever-so-slight relaxation of the vote-by-mail rules was a gentle whisper in the ear of the electorate (“I care…”). The Attorney General’s message to local health authorities was decidedly less gentle. Meanwhile, the legislature – remember them? – is getting antsy about how to manage the practical matters of what everybody realizes is going to be a miserable, fiscally strapped session in 2021 no matter how many people they have an excuse to keep out of their offices. And, well, Congressman Louis Gohmert. Read on for public opinion data on all this and more.
President Donald Trump returns to Texas Wednesday for a fundraising event in Odessa and, per press reports, to "tour an oil rig in Midland." Per our usual practice, we've rounded up various polling results capturing Texans' views of the president to provide context for his visit, which comes less than 100 days before voters decide whether to award him with another term.
The Second Reading Podcast: Confederate Monuments and Changes to the November Elections (Recorded July 28, 2020)
For this week's Second Reading Podcast, Jim Henson and Joshua Blank discuss Texans' attitudes towards Confederate monuments on public property and the likelihood of their removal, as well as the politics surrounding recent changes to the November elections.
Amidst growing support for removing Confederate monuments, resistance remains strong in corners of the Texas GOP
UT polls conducted in 2017 and 2020 captured a general shift away from support for leaving these Confederate monuments on public property unaltered, and a shift to majority support for moving them in 2020. Yet within this overall pattern of change suggesting more support for moving the monuments, the makings of significant conflict remain in evidence. There are important differences among different social groups that form along partisan, generational, and racial lines — and significant pockets of opposition seemingly colored by racial animus and a rejection of the otherwise growing recognition of the history and legacy of racism in the U.S. — and in Texas. We examine these findings in detail below, with some discussion following. To summarize: Changes in Texas attitudes have been significant, but the group patterns within these changes suggest that visitors shouldn’t expect to see any empty pedestals or blank wall spaces next time they are allowed to tour the Capitol grounds.
There’s no shortage of academic research (and practical experience) to suggest that women and men perceive risk differently, and subsequently respond to risky situations with different behaviors. The results from the recent University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll reveal these gendered patterns of risk assessment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. hese data reveal significant differences suggesting that men’s attitudes and behavior themselves pose a risk to the efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The Second Reading Podcast: Run-Off Election Results and Assessing How Competitive Texas will be in November (Recorded July 21, 2020)
For this week's Second Reading Podcast, Jim Henson and Joshua Blank discuss the run-off election results, with a particular focus on the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, as well as the first (of likely many) conversations assessing Texas' competitiveness in the 2020 elections.