With primary elections in Texas just days away, public opinion polling is inevitably seeping into the discussion of an unusually active political season. Campaigns are starting to release their internal polling in efforts to shape the news coverage and perception of races, and of course the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll will follow its more or less regular schedule and appear sometime prior to Election Day. Purveyors of public polls like the UT/Texas Tribune Poll are once again faced with the unenviable task of providing context and (unfortunately) implied predictions about what’s going to happen in nominating contests for the state’s top offices.
The week started with very bad news for Lupe Valdez, while state campaign finance reports revealed how the Governor and Lt. Governor are spending their campaign largesse in the absence of any real primary challengers. Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune also posited the absence of one of the issues that roiled the legislative session in primary campaigns, despite some predictions (even promises) to the contrary. We took a break on national politics this week, though we note with many others that some national polling is suggesting that the much-discussed Democratic wave might be breaking farther from shore than exuberant Democrats and glum Republicans have been thinking.
Political courage took a back seat to political calculation as the renegade memo on the investigation of Carter Page was made public, completing the eclipse of the President’s State of the Union and, at least for the moment, the increasingly corrosive immigration debate. While the fiddling continues in a smoldering Washington, D.C., the Comptroller delivered bad news of a more mundane variety to the Senate Finance Committee this week, while financial bad news of a different sort added to the woes of a (somewhat) surprisingly beleaguered George P. Bush in his increasingly contentious primary battle to remain Land Commissioner. Beto had better financial news than either Glenn or George P. (That sentence shows why the first name thing works better for O’Rourke). National media attention to a report on white supremacist groups focusing recruiting efforts on college campuses featured their fairly piddling efforts on Texas campuses, through our data suggests that White Supremacy pretty clearly doesn’t have a data analytics department.
Donald Trump will give his first official State of the Union Address tonight at 8 PM central time (his first speech to Congress upon being elected in 2017 isn't technically a State of the Union Address). Here are five quick observations about Donald Trump's standing in Texas to provide some context for tonight's address – to wit, he has been consistently popular among Texas Republicans, just as consistently intensely unpopular among Texas Democrats, and remains in better standing with his GOP base in Texas than the collective members of Congress he'll be addressing tonight.
You may not be aware that the University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, as of this writing, has been measuring Tea Party identification since 2010, which means that we have collected (an astonishing, if I do say so myself) 24 surveys of registered voters in Texas that can examine Tea Party attitudes alone, in comparison to Republicans as a whole, non-Tea Party Republicans, Democrats, and, of course, the entire electorate.
Day-to-day breaking news on the various aspects of investigations of Russian tampering in the 2016 election and (increasingly) how the Trump White House has responded to the investigation dominated the national political news this week, with the early week looking bad for the FBI but the end of the week looking decidedly worse for the president. The big story from the previous week, the negotiations over immigration policy and the government shutdown, hovered ever so lightly over Dan Patrick’s first border-security and illegal immigration focused campaign video, in which the Lt. Governor signaled very strongly that he’s still behind the president. Yet within hours of the release of the governor’s video, the president was signaling his willingness to trade a path to citizenship for DACA recipients for border wall funding – which provided Senator Cruz the chance to raise his head above the hedge to shout his dissent. In two developments that remain secure from the ever-expanding storm of national politics, the special school finance commission met for the first time this week, and the first batch of legally grown marijuana in Texas made news. Continue on for Texas data on yet another week in politics that veered very unevenly between mystery and quirky humor.
Without undertaking judgments about the various attempts to frame the shutdown with assignations of blame, we’ve rounded up a set of polling results from (mostly) recent University of Texas / Texas Tribune Polls to illuminate how the political rhetoric surrounding the 2018 shutdown of the federal government is landing among the Texas electorate.
While Texas has ceded pioneer status to other states such as Colorado, Washington state, and, most recently, California (!) when it comes to legalizing the sale and use of marijuana, Texans’ attitudes toward decriminalization don’t lag far behind the national trend as much as inherited images of Texas’ cultural conservatism might suggest.
Polling in Texas, at least, suggests two key points. First, as one might expect, there are stark partisan differences in Texans’ assessments of Trump’s traits, with Republicans’ rating him much more positively than Democrats. These differences are unsurprising, but still notable given their magnitude in the context of Trump’s outlier status in terms of his preparation for the office of the presidency and his unorthodox (and combative) style. Second, the widespread view of the president as a strong leader among Republicans appears likely to counterbalance somewhat less faith in his other qualities – qualities that one might expect to form a sound basis for judging presidents, at lease based on precedents.
Texas politics continued to be roiled by the ongoing national reckoning with sexual misconduct and gender attitudes in the culture this week, from a hearing in the Texas Senate on harassment policy to a couple of men calling it quits, including yet another Congressman, Blake Farenthold. In the policy realm, good stories on the history of the border wall produced by a team of Texas Tribune and ProPublica, and on climate change and Harvey in the Houston Chronicle, remind us all that we can continue to talk about enduring policy issues, though they also point to polarized public attitudes that make any moves on those issues difficult. All this, and, of course, Alabama