Joshua Blank

With both voting and the Pandemic Surging in Texas, Expect Republicans to Show Up on Election Day

October 30, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Over the past two weeks, Texas has experienced two surges, one in early voting and one in the rate of new coronavirus cases. The surge in early voting brought more than 9 million voters to the polls, surpassing total turnout for the entire 2016 election. The COVID-19 surge continues on, ungoverned by election laws or campaign schedules.

Texas 2020 Presidential Poll Tracker

October 30, 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.

After years in the wings, independent voters take center stage in Texas in 2020

October 23, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

For those who focus on the historical arc of partisan competition in Texas politics, it’s hard not to cast independents as somewhere between the ultimate anti-heroes and a group of extras and bit players suddenly thrust into the spotlight in the drama of 2020. For the better part of the last two decades of Texas elections, political independents were, if not irrelevant, at least a pretty distant thought in handicapping election outcomes. The increased level of competition in races, both statewide, but especially down ballot in 2018, the consistently tight margins in polling on the presidential race in Texas, and the inherent unpredictability of independents as a group have suddenly made them the focus of both campaigns and those who prognosticate about them. That unpredictability makes it very tough to anticipate their impact on this, or any, election. But as polling shows a large group of them soured on Donald Trump, the preferences of independents now loom large over the 2020 contests in Texas.

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

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. The poll conducted in late September and early October in conjunction with The Texas Tribune enables us to begin looking at changes in attitudes over the duration of the pandemic given the timing of our polls (April, June, and September-October). Below are some first looks at how attitudes have moved since the panemic’s early days, through the beginning of the summer wave that saw it’s peaks in new daily cases of 10,791 on July 14 and 275 deaths on July 23 (based on state-compiled data), and into a fall season in which the virus has receded from its peak, but still persists at levels roughly equivalent to mid-June when measured in the level of daily new cases, as illustrated in the chart immediately below. 

Context for the Cornyn-Hegar U.S. Senate Debate from the Latest UT/Texas Tribune Poll

October 9, 2020
By: 
Joshua Blank

M.J. Hegar will look to raise her profile tonight as she and incumbent U.S. Senator John Cornyn face off in a televised debate at 7 PM Central Standard Time. In many ways, Hegar is doing relatively well according to the most recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll in that she’s only trailing Cornyn among likely voters by 8 points.

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.

Thumbs on the scales: Texas Data Points for the Week in Politics (August 29, 2020)

August 29, 2020
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

State Senator Pat Fallon’s Senate seat is not only still warm, it’s not even technically vacated, which made Governor Abbott’s thumb-on-the-scale calling of a snap election for his replacement the major political preoccupation inside the Austin beltway (such as it is) this week. We take a look at the district, presumed frontrunner State Rep. Drew Springer’s positioning there, and possible spoiler Shelly Luther’s potential audience among the Texas GOP. Meanwhile, in Charlotte and on several public properties in the Washington, D.C. area, Donald Trump and his political party attempted to rally fervid Trump Republicans while shoring up some key corners where they fear attrition in November, a tricky task, even if you do have the White House as a backdrop. Hurricane Laura came ashore big, though luckily appears to have inflicted less damage than anticipated. Still, some Texas areas adjacent to the major disaster areas in Western Louisiana were hit hard; we gingerly consider the possible political consequences of the disaster in Texas, along with other data points from the week in politics.

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