Jim Henson

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

October 16, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

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

Texas 2020 Presidential Poll Tracker

October 16, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

While the cable shows seize on the latest poll, with an emphasis on those that make the best news, it is of course best to look at as much data as possible, taking into account sampling strategy, timing, and trend. We'll keep this page updated as more data become available.

Across three Texas polls between April and October, a growing minority of Texans has become less concerned and less cautious even as COVID-19 daily cases persist at mid-June levels

October 15, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The last three Texas public opinion polls the Texas Politics Project team worked on contained extensive questioning to understand Texans’ attitudes toward policies addressing the pandemic, their perceptions of its effects and seriousness, and their behaviors in response to policies and perceived threats related to COVID-19.

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October 5, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson

We send updates on new polling, data, and events via our recently relaunched email list. The emails tend to be short and relatiely infrequent – open the post to fill out the simple sign-up form.

It's October, But Is Any of This Really Surprising? Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, October 2, 2020

October 1, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson

The rules regulating voting in Texas got another restrictive twist this week when Governor Abbott issued a proclamation imposing new limits on the handling of mail-in ballots. Abbott’s action took place even as agitation among GOP dissidents on the right continued to pressure him for his exercise of executive power during the pandemic. One of those dissidents added more fuel to that fire Tuesday when she finished first in the special election in Texas Senate District 30. While all this was unfolding in Texas, apparently President Donald Trump was getting infected with COVID-19, which as the week ended diverted attention away from his reluctance to unambiguously reject White supremacist groups at the Tuesday’s unpleasant presidential debate, though it sheds a new light on his continuing underestimation at the debate of COVID-19 in general and preventative measures in particular. 

Fear and Loathing at the Ballot Box: Texas Data Points for the Week In Politics, September 26, 2020

September 26, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson

The artifice and hyperbole inherent in the Hunter S. Thompson reference notwithstanding, the week's election news elicited genuine fear and sincere loathing. So with emotions high and the stakes for the political system even higher, this week’s post focuses on the escalating political fighting over the rules for the 2020 general election as voting procedures in Texas are being challenged on multiple fronts, and as the President all but promises that he will contest the outcome of the election if he doesn't win. On the same day that Donald Trump refused (the first time, anyway) to commit to accepting the results of the 2020 presidential election, a group of Texas Republicans was asking the Texas Supreme Court to reverse Governor Abbott’s extension of the early voting period. All of this overshadowed the state’s compliance this week with a federal court order requiring Texas to follow the 27-year old “motor voter” law by allowing Texans renewing their driver’s license online to also update their voter registration - a possible beachhead for belatedly bringing online voter registration to the state. As the week ended, the voting plot thickened still more, as the Texas Attorney General tried to highlight a voter fraud case involving absentee ballots in a primary race for county commissioner, and a federal judge sent shivers through the spines of county clerks by blocking the 2019 law ending straight-ticket voting in Texas. And as a backdrop to the swirling political and legal chaos around elections and voting, the Secretary of State announced an increase in registered voters (registration continued through October 5). These are all pieces of an important puzzle picturing the resilience of democracy in the state and the nation. With early voting set to start in Texas in less than three weeks (setting aside the lawsuit for the moment), as a wise observer once said, all the pieces matter. I took a little more time this week to put several of them together.

Positive Thinking, Minus the Positivity: Texas Data Points for the Week in Politics, September 18, 2020

September 20, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson

Governor Abbott started the weekend on Thursday by announcing that based on a new criteria, much of the state would be able to relax, though not remove, some of the restrictions on business and public activities. We also got to put a debate between Senator John Cornyn and challenger M.J. Hegar on our calendars this week (October 9), even as a report issued by a non-profit suggested that the pandemic resulted in a drop in new voter registration, at least in the spring. In other voting data that is equally unsurprising, very few people are voting in the Senate District 30 special election to replace Senator Pat Fallon. National Democrats' late summer confidence got a little shakier this week, especially as they pored over the ever-difficult-to-intrpret poll numbers among Latinos. And for much of the week, Donald Trump kept it up, raising the usual questions. 

Raging and Pledging: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, Sept 11, 2020

September 11, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The release of recordings of conversations between veteran journalist Bob Woodward and President Donald Trump as part of the Washington Post's rollout for Woodward’s second book about Trump, Rage, dominated coverage of politics, Trump, and COVID-19 this week. Senator Corynyn “in retrospect” opined that President Trump just maybe could have trusted the American people with “accurate information." Meanwhile, as part of his effort to get re-elected, Trump this week released a list of potential nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court that included, among other colorful characters, the junior U.S. Senator from Texas that the president used to call "Lyin’ Ted." Back in Ted Cruz’s home state, his former boss, Governor Greg Abbott, continued to avoid undue attention to COVID-19, channelling the president’s political turn to press a law and order argument with a new campaign pledge for Republicans and citizens (validated with your data), and still more proposals designed to punish cities ostensibly not toeing the blue line. And there’s a lot of stress in the state this week as many kids returned to whatever version of school is on offer in their neighborhood. Don’t panic, just read on for more Texas data related to these events from the week in Texas politics.

When the Walls Come Tumbling Down: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics (September 3, 2020)

September 3, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

President Trump took the discussions of mail-in voting through the looking glass when he urged supporters to vote by mail and to vote in person, too. While Attorney General Bill Barr testily and ineffectually tried to clean up Trump’s nihilistic weirdness (by suggesting that what he really meant was that Republicans’ voting by mail “have to go and check their vote by going to the poll and voting that way, because if it tabulates then they won't be able to do that”), Texas Republicans from both the executive and judicial branches were doing their best to stifle the attempted expansion of voting by mail in Harris County. As Trump’s latest election play unfolds in the choppy wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott floated the idea a relaxation of the statewide containment measures after the Labor Day holiday, seemingly not quite taking into account the lag effects in accounting for the community spread we saw after Memorial Day and the Fourth of July weekends earlier this summer, and even as pandemic data collection in Texas continue to leave a lot to be desired. Speaking of data, Comptroller Glen Hegar provided his offices’s regularly scheduled state revenue update, which enables us to look not only at quality monthly data but also provides a look at FY 2019. Much less useful was a recent release of Texas presidential polling, which got us on our soapbox about poll disclosure (sorry, though not a lot). Finally, a Texas Tribune/ProPublica report on the unsurprising news that a section of the border wall paid for as part of the ALLEGED “We Build the Wall” grift is likely to come tumbling down made us recall results from the UT/Texas Tribune Poll back when the wall was a thing. Find polling and other data on these topics in this week's Texas data points...

Texas Attitudes on Race, Policing, and Protest as the GOP Doubles Down on Law and Order

September 1, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

With their parties’ national conventions behind them and the final phase of the presidential campaign set to begin after the Labor Day weekend, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden will seek to reinforce their framing of the campaign this week amidst the backdrop of continued attention to the reckoning with racism in the U.S. after recent events in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Each seeks to mobilize a base that is likely unpersuadable by the other side given the combination of party polarization and the overwhelmingly negative perceptions that partisans hold of the opposing candidate — but which must be turned out in their respective entireties to maintain parity in the closely dividely country. Yet around the edges, these efforts to fire up partisan supporters can’t alienate the thin share of voters who are either undecided partisans, truly independent, or whose partisan inclination might be shaken by the volatile issues at the intersection of race and policing.

Trump’s efforts to paint Biden as a friend of anarchy and himself as the guarantor of law and order will depend little on the details of city budgets and crime rates, relying instead on predispositions and opinions on visceral issues like race, public safety, and stability. Texans’ attitudes at the intersection of race, policing, and the spectrum stretching from public protests to the meme of “civil unrest” illustrate the likely audiences for the coming efforts by both national presidential campaigns’ attempts to frame recent events to their advantage — the advantage resting in their ability to mobilize their bases while also landing appeals among the narrow band of voters whose votes are still up for grabs.

A set of questions in our 2020 polling illustrates the degree to which Texas partisans are polarized in their views of the systemic effects of racism on policing, of police more generally, and of the protests that emerged in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department.

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