The week drew to an end with a meeting about how to treat the past, after the Senate Finance Committee looked to the future as it pondered life after Harvey. Several rounds of court battles resulted in an undocumented teenager in federal custody receiving the abortion she had requested and the Trump administration had tried to block. Trump himself came to Dallas on Wednesday, but his visit got knocked off the front page in Texas by the unexpected announcement of Speaker Joe Straus that he wasn't running for re-election next year, though he was staying in his seat -- and the Speaker's office. Read on for fresh public opinion data related to this week's news from the just-released October 2017 University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll. (See hundreds of graphics from the poll results at our latest poll page, too.)
Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus’ announcement that he won’t seek re-election to his House seat will trigger an open race for the speakership while defusing efforts to make Straus himself an issue in the GOP primaries – a tactic that hasn’t work especially well in recent primaries anyway. The speaker will serve out the rest of his term, but on the occasion of the Speaker’s announcement, we've rounded up results on the Speaker’s job approval ratings from the University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll, as well as videos of the three interviews we’ve done with the Speaker during his term (recorded in 2011, 2015, and 2017).
President Donald Trump will be in Dallas for a fundraiser Wednesday in a week which will also see a convocation of Trump fundraisers presided over by T. Boone Pickens and a paid speech by Donald Trump, Jr. at the University of North Texas. The Trump visit comes in the wake of fresh data from the UT/Texas Tribune Poll on Texans’ attitudes toward Trump job performance overall, his handling of various public matters, and his character traits.
First Takes and Some Bonus Data Points from the First Wave of October 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll Results
The Texas Tribune rolled out the first wave of results from the October 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll thursdays, with 3 more days of nuggets to come. Here are a few observations from the first day of results, plus a few tidbits of data from the crosstabs. (We’ll release the entire set of crosstabs and the usual files next week after the Tribune rollout is complete.)
Speaker of the House Joe Straus continued his efforts to shift his party’s agenda into the realm of economic development and to re-engage the business sector. Meanwhile, over at the White House, apparently tired of Congress’s inability act on the ACA, Donald Trump used executive power to launch a frontal assault on Obamacare this week, with extremely uncertain political and policy results to come. Texas Governor Greg Abbott also expressed some very public frustration with Congress, who as a group had a pretty tough week even as they uncharacteristically tried to do their jobs by moving another disaster relief bill, which was passed by the House. One of those members, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, outraised his expected Democratic opponent, though also got word that he may have a primary challenger. And lest you think Congress deserves some sympathy, their response to the Las Vegas shooting devolved into the usual puddle of avoidance and utter predictability from all involved.
Public Opinion in Texas and Governor Abbott’s Poke at the Congressional Delegation Over Harvey Relief
In terms of everyone’s standing back home in Texas, a look at the job approval numbers of the Governor, the Congress, and the state’s U.S. Senators finds Governor Greg Abbott in a pretty good position to take a shot at Congress. The Governor’s job approval ratings are very strong among Republicans, while those of Congress remain almost comically dismal -- even among voters of the majority party.
The cycle of initial shock and rote meta-politics that we’ve come to expect in the immediate aftermath of high-profile mass shootings in the United States has now moved on to the phase of political maneuvering over gun policy that takes place amidst the unpacking of the killer’s life. At the intersection of these two storylines, attitudes about the causes of mass shootings inform both the political debate and efforts by the news media, policy makers, and the public to understand and arrive at responses to incidents like the attack in Las Vegas.
As anticipated, the Trump administration has used executive authority to reverse measures implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act that mandate coverage of contraception in most insurance plans. Public attitudes captured in the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll illustrate how the focus on religious exemptions may work to qualify what is otherwise universal support for women having access to contraception.
The Texas Tribune Festival runs this weekend (September 22-24) right here at The University of Texas at Austin with 10 tracks in addition to special events spread out over all three days. To provide additional context to those of you attending, watching online, or reading about it afterwards, we've annotated some of the panels with relevant University of Texas/Texas Tribune polling results. We've also provided links to get more information like additional cross tabs and question wording, but if you want to look for more, we have a good search tool and lots of tags on our polling search page. Enjoy the festival, and if you find a result to share via social media, the tag for the festival is #Tribfest2017.
Eventually politics will return to discussions of how much money to spend on disaster recovery in the wake of Hurricane Harvey -- where it comes from, how it’s distributed, and who gets how much (some might simply call this politics). In thinking about that eventuality, we’ve produced some maps that combine the counties designated as disaster areas by Governor Greg Abbott with district boundaries for the Texas House and Senate, as well as the party affiliation of the legislators and members in those areas. (This meant jamming a lot in these maps and we’re not cartographers – we’re happy to receive suggestions and corrections – and if you would like to use any of the maps, feel free to download and distribute.) (And also, read on, there's more after the maps.)