Joshua Blank

Recoding School Choice as a Parental Right

March 14, 2023
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Results from the February 2023 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll provides evidence of how the pandemic, the wide propagation of the trope of “woke education,” and the patterns in the state’s rapid population growth have converged to sharpen the terms of long-fought battles, while also shifting the terrain upon which these battles are being fought.  The current surge in rhetoric and political action based on notions like “parental rights” and the prevalence of “woke education” have provided potential means for overcoming the resistance of a sizable faction of Republican legislators and the demonstrated ambivalence of voters toward state support for private education that “school choice” advocates have historically been unable to overcome in the legislature. 

Texas Attitudes on Spending as the 88th Legislature Considers Its Next Budget

March 6, 2023
By: 
Joshua Blank
Jim Henson

With the Texas Legislature debating what should be done with the state's unprecented budget surplus, the February 2023 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll included a large array of questions on government spending and policy priorities similar to a battery run at the beginning of the prior session. As we described last time, "The goal of the large battery on spending in our early session poll is to check in on Texans’ attitudes toward state spending in broad issue areas. It doesn’t assume the existence of specific spending proposals nor of well-informed or developed attitudes on the part of the respondents. Rather, these items provide something of a heat check on Texans’ dispositions toward areas of public policy that are contenders for finite resources in the process." 

Texans feeling the pain of property taxes, but most voters have higher priorities for the 88th Legislature

March 2, 2023
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

As Texas elected officials debate how to spend a historic budget surplus, the latest University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll suggests that state leaders’ persistent focus on reducing property tax bills finds a broadly receptive audience in the Texas electorate, even though perennial problems such as border security, school safety, and mental health loom larger in the minds of Texas voters.

Public opinion data points and other context for Greg Abbott’s 2023 State of the State address

February 15, 2023
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Greg Abbott will deliver the fifth State of the State address from San Marcos Thursday, February 16th, presenting the opportunity to direct public attention to his agenda and to send signals to the Legislature and other state leaders about his legislative priorities. The strongest indication of those priorities will be the subjects he designates as emergency items, which would exempt legislation so designated from the constitutional provision that prohibits both houses from passing bills during the first 60 days of the regular session.

Estranged Bedfellows? Polling reveals evidence of trouble in the long marriage between business and the Texas GOP

February 10, 2023
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The GOP pushback against business remains one of the underappreciated themes of the 87th Texas Legislature – and one of the most important subplots of the 88th as the legislature shifts into higher gear. From the blacklisting of companies branded with the scarlet letters E-S-G from doing business with the state to the slow-motion demise of Texas's Chapter 313 business incentive program, the tide of conservative legislation aimed at shaping business decisions has upended assumptions about the traditional “pro-business” orientation of Republican governance in the state. Data from recent University of Texas/Texas Politics Project polling suggest that elected Republicans’ efforts to mobilize partisan support with rhetoric and policies that punish business finds support among some Republican voters eager jump on the anti-“woke” dogpile in the short run. But it also activates tensions in the governing GOP coalition.

Between the election and the looming session, December UT/Texas Politics Project poll finds Texans skeptical of state government

December 19, 2022
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The Texas Politics Project has released the results of the first University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll conducted in the interim between the general election and the kickoff of a Texas legislative session. The poll included a variety of questions about institutions, groups, and actors in Texas as the newly-elected 88th Texas Legislature considers their agenda at a critical time in the state’s history, while also continuing to track trends in Texans’ views of the job performance of elected officials and important problems and issues in the state and country. 

Texas trend data on attitudes toward the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to curb its impact (December 2022 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll update)

December 19, 2022
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The December 2022 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll adds an 12th assessment of Texans’ attitudes about the coronavirus pandemic to the Texas Politics Project polling data archive, adding to data collected in batteries from polls conducted in April, June, and October of 2020; February, April, June, August and October of 2021, and February, April, June, August, and October of 2022. The time series allows reporters, researchers, elected leaders, public health officials, and the public a view of how Texans’ concerns about COVID, behaviors during the pandemic, and evaluations of the official responses have changed over the duration of the COVID pandemic.

Some Notes on the Political Geography of the 2022 Election in Texas

November 29, 2022
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

A look at the geography beneath the status-quo-preserving results of the 2022 Texas election reveal gradual patterns of change that both confirm and confound the received knowledge about the state’s most recent elections and the longer-run trajectory of the state. Looking at the distribution of the vote between the two major parties from among urban, suburban, and rural counties* reveals patterns that are more subtle than the Republican tromping of Democrats in statewide and legislative races might initially suggest.

Making sense of electoral politics in Texas as the 2022 election reaches its crescendo

October 31, 2022
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

For all the upheaval in the state over the last two years – month after month of screaming and fighting over COVID measures (amidst tens of thousands of COVID-related deaths), persistent threats to democratic institutions that broke into open violence on January 6 and have simmered ever since, the power outage that killed hundreds and brought discomfort and suffering to millions in Texas, the mass killing of children at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, the overturning of Roe v Wade and the resulting deterioration of health care and autonomy for millions of Texas women – the Texas electorate as likely constituted seem poised to vote for continuity rather than change. This situation is the result of long-standing, and only slowly changing, characteristics of the Texas political system being reinforced by a strong national dynamic favoring Republicans.

Contextualizing (and Tracking) the Early Vote in Texas

October 30, 2022
By: 
Joshua Blank

As Election Day approaches, many are watching early voting patterns for indications of total turnout and signs of partisan advantages (or disadvantage). However, intepreting the 2022 early vote is tricky, and interpretation of patterns requires keeping several factors in mind. Many of the most obvious comparisons being made in efforts to find leading indicators of election outcomes are more complicated than they appear. Some of these complications arise from the data collection and reporting by the secretary of state. Others considerations arise from well established differences between mid-term and presidential election years, and from the unique circumstances of both the 2018 and 2022 elections.

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