Amidst all the unknowns about this phase of the Mueller investigation, now that the "report" has been submitted, one thing we know from University of Texas/Texas Tribune Polling: reactions will be heavily determined by partisanship. Looking back over the time series of UT/TT Polls, attitudes towards Mueller, the Russia Investigation, and even the FBI as an organization split along partisan lines a considerable time ago.
Following principle rather than politics would require crossing Texas GOP voters who are overwhelmingly and uncompromisingly supportive of the wall, comfortable with Trump’s reliance on executive power to deliver it and still intensely supportive of his presidency.
[This post originally appeared in Tribtalk on March 13, 2019. When the Senate voted on March 14, Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn both voted against the resolution. Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in voting in favor of the motion, which passed 59-41.]
As the political press awaits Beto O’Rourke’s announcement that he’s ready to “push the button” on a campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, we’ve gathered a set of results from the University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll that chart his rise in his home state. All of this put him in a strong position to challenge John Cornyn in 2020, but he has apparently chosen ostensibly bigger and better things at the national level.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick released 30 priority bills for the current legislative session Friday, conveniently mapped onto the numbering of Senate Bills 1-30. We published a similar list when Governor Abbott used the power of the governorship to shape the legislative agenda with his declaration of emergency items in February, prior to the most recent University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll. The overlap between the Lt. Governor’s priorities and those previously announced by the governor means that several of the items below provide a useful update for that post, too.
The latest University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll, which Ross Ramsey wrote about in a batch of stories released through the week, covered a range of subjects and issues with an emphasis on the current legislative session. As always, we’ll continue to mine the data and connect it with happenings at the legislature as the session kicks into a higher gear, but below are a first set of observations, hopefully more than hot takes but certainly less than the in-depth treatment we’ll give them in coming weeks.
Set aside the hand-waving and vague muttering that “elections have consequences,” and the evidence for a public mandate on school finance and propert taxes is pretty thin. It likely has more to do with the new governing dynamic among Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and Dennis Bonnen.
President Donald Trump’s first visit to Texas of 2019 comes as another partial government shutdowwn looms, and as Trump’s demand for funding for a wall or similar barriers continues to meet resistance from congressional Democrats led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Trump will hold a rally in El Paso as opponents hold a counter-rally that will feature speeches by Beto O’Rourke and newly-elected congresswoman Veronica Escobar.
Review relevant results from the most recent University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll that provide context for Trump’s reception upon his return to Texas, and his continued emphasis on immigration and the border with Mexico.
Texas public opinion has remained fairly static on the perrenial issue of abortion, but has shifted towards the Supreme Court (in notable partisan paterns) over time as the justices have weighed in on the issues of gay marriage, Obamacare, and, likely, abortion – and as offices have changed hands between Republican and Democratic control. Below is a set of results from numerous University of Texas/Texas Tribune Polls.
Governor Greg Abbott delivered the state of the state speech today, and as expected declared a set of emergency items, enabling the legislature to move bills on these subjects through the legislative process more quickly. These items are school finance reform and increasing teacher pay; school safety; mental health; property tax reform (with a seeming nod toward electing tax appraisers); and disaster response.
Abbott’s emphasis on public education and reforming the property tax system largely echoed priorities already under discussion by the state’s political leaders as the legislative session has unfolded. He ended with an embrace of the seeming Era of Good Feeling that state leaders keep declaring in the Capitol in the wake of the 2018 election ("I am inspired by the comradery and collaboration that have infused this session. I feel it myself."). The causes and reality of this narrative beyond waving at the 2018 election results deserve to be examined more closely; for now, here are some touchpoints in public opinion for the emergency items that the governor has declared in his bid to set the legislative agenda.
Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program: Texas Public Opinion and the Politics of the Border Security–Government Shutdown Imbroglio
If politics in the state capital seem to have taken an oddly agreeable turn in the interim between the November elections and the commencement of the 86th Texas Legislative Session in January 2019, the resurgence of the politics of border security in negotiations between the White House and Congressional Democrats over a continuing resolution to fund the federal government remind us that the nativist sentiment among the Republican base is never far from the surface. Whether they reappear in state politics too, after an interlude of good feelings about the need to address public school financing and forego more divisive policy issues, will depend on the choices of the major players in the legislative process – and, to a difficult to predict degree, upon national atmospherics shaped largely by the White House.
For today, though, the intense views on border security and immigration that have been the most reliable features of GOP attitudes both nationally and in Texas are at center stage as Donald Trump plays chicken with the Democratic congressional leadership over his demands for $5 billion in funding for his border wall (presumably the share the Mexican government has not yet paid for).