Post Date: July 2020
Official economic data released Thursday confirmed what millions of Americans and Texans already knew from experience – that giant sucking sound in everyone’s ears is coming from the contraction of the economy. The same day (what a coincidence!), the president’s Tweet about delaying the November election, and the immediate frenzied responses, had a similar sucking effect. By comparison, Governor Greg Abbott’s addition of another week to the early voting period and an ever-so-slight relaxation of the vote-by-mail rules was a gentle whisper in the ear of the electorate (“I care…”). The Attorney General’s message to local health authorities was decidedly less gentle. Meanwhile, the legislature – remember them? – is getting antsy about how to manage the practical matters of what everybody realizes is going to be a miserable, fiscally strapped session in 2021 no matter how many people they have an excuse to keep out of their offices. And, well, Congressman Louis Gohmert. Read on for public opinion data on all this and more.
President Donald Trump returns to Texas Wednesday for a fundraising event in Odessa and, per press reports, to "tour an oil rig in Midland." Per our usual practice, we've rounded up various polling results capturing Texans' views of the president to provide context for his visit, which comes less than 100 days before voters decide whether to award him with another term.
The Second Reading Podcast: Confederate Monuments and Changes to the November Elections (Recorded July 28, 2020)
For this week's Second Reading Podcast, Jim Henson and Joshua Blank discuss Texans' attitudes towards Confederate monuments on public property and the likelihood of their removal, as well as the politics surrounding recent changes to the November elections.
Amidst growing support for removing Confederate monuments, resistance remains strong in corners of the Texas GOP
UT polls conducted in 2017 and 2020 captured a general shift away from support for leaving these Confederate monuments on public property unaltered, and a shift to majority support for moving them in 2020. Yet within this overall pattern of change suggesting more support for moving the monuments, the makings of significant conflict remain in evidence. There are important differences among different social groups that form along partisan, generational, and racial lines — and significant pockets of opposition seemingly colored by racial animus and a rejection of the otherwise growing recognition of the history and legacy of racism in the U.S. — and in Texas. We examine these findings in detail below, with some discussion following. To summarize: Changes in Texas attitudes have been significant, but the group patterns within these changes suggest that visitors shouldn’t expect to see any empty pedestals or blank wall spaces next time they are allowed to tour the Capitol grounds.
There’s no shortage of academic research (and practical experience) to suggest that women and men perceive risk differently, and subsequently respond to risky situations with different behaviors. The results from the recent University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll reveal these gendered patterns of risk assessment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. hese data reveal significant differences suggesting that men’s attitudes and behavior themselves pose a risk to the efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The Second Reading Podcast: Run-Off Election Results and Assessing How Competitive Texas will be in November (Recorded July 21, 2020)
For this week's Second Reading Podcast, Jim Henson and Joshua Blank discuss the run-off election results, with a particular focus on the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, as well as the first (of likely many) conversations assessing Texas' competitiveness in the 2020 elections.
Bereft of a candidate with statewide stature and drowned out by the roar of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic calamity, the statewide run-off election to choose a Democratic nominee to challenge John Cornyn’s bid for a fourth term in the U.S. Senate limped to a conclusion Tuesday night, when self-declared outsider M.J. Hegar defeated longtime State Senator Royce West of Dallas by about 4 percentage points. The Texas-politics-as usual feel of this likely evasion, amplified by such a radically changed political environment – the renewed confrontation with racism, the pandemic, the associated economic crash – raise a question: Do fundamental assumptions about both candidates’ positioning made in the early stages of the campaign last year still work for them?
The Second Reading Podcast: Texans Views on Discrimination, Race, Police, and Protests (Recorded July 14, 2020)
Bet you didn't know the Texas Politics Project had a podcast unless you were a UT student.
For this week's Second Reading podcast, Jim Henson and Joshua Blank continue a mutli-episode discussion of some of the results of the recently released UT/Texas Politics Project poll. Today's show, recorded the morning of Tuesday, July 14, focuses on Texans' opinions on discrimination, race, policing, and the recent protests in response to George Floyd's death and racism in the United States.
While we should expect only a very small fraction of the eligible electorate, or even of registered voters, to show up for run-off elections, there is a pretty good crop of run-off races for party nominations. The composition of the electorate is the big unknown here, which has made any early public polling in these races difficult, and, in particular, has contributed to making the public polling in the U.S. Senate run-off a pretty speculative enterprise. But we do have a lot of data from the University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll conducted very recently (June 19-29), as well as a lot of comparison and trend data, to illustrate the volatile and generally worried mood of the electorate.
The effort to mobilize as many Texans as possible to support necessary public health measures to contain the pandemic will be hurt if Republicans are demonized as not participating in the effort by virtue of their political party. It’s simply not the case.
But that said, the share of Republican voters whose attitudes about the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic reflect a minimalist view of the risks associated with the virus, and whose reported behavior reflects a rejection of the containment measures being urged by public health authorities, did grow substantially between April and June.