Post Date: April 2021
Trends in data from a year of polling reveal often dramatic differences in Texas attitudes and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic
The April 2021 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll adds a fifth assessment of Texans’ attitudes about the coronavirus pandemic to the Texas Politics Project polling data archive, adding to attitudes collected in batteries from polls conducted in April, June, and October of 2020, and February and April of 2021. 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 throughout a year of pandemic conditions in Texas.
All eyes in the Texas Capitol today will be on the floor of the Texas House, as the chamber considers the core appropriations bill (SB1) as well as the supplemental appropriation bill (HB2) and third reading for the significant follow-up bill to last session’s major education reform (HB1525, on which there are more than 20 prefiled amendments). The February 2021 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll included a large array of questions on government spending and policy priorities. We’ve gathered them all in one place for reference as the House considers the bills and particularly the over 200 pre-filed amendments on SB1.
The Texas House of Representatives’ passage last Friday of HB 1927, a bill that would effectively allow for the unlicensed carry of handguns in most public places in Texas, was quickly followed by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s comments to the press this week that, as of now, there isn’t enough support in the Texas Senate to act on the bill. In the wake of some police organizations’ high-profile opposition to allowing unlicensed and untrained gun owners to carry weapons in public places (which didn’t persuade the House majority), Patrick’s public decision to push the pause button in part reflects a tension between two prominent themes of recent Republican election campaigns: the promise to “back the blue,” a ubiquitous refrain of campaigns up and down the ballot in 2020, and the full-throated defense of an ever-expansive view of the Second Amendment.
With the Texas House of Representatives’ passage of HB 1927, which would enable most Texans over the age of 21 to carry a handgun in public without training or a permit, Texas is in line to become by far the most populous, most urban, and so the most significant state to enact a policy that only a few years ago was seen as a fringe (or at least a longshot) conservative cause, even among the state’s long-hegemonic Republicans. While one might be tempted to embrace the views of social media conservatives that the majority has finally exerted its will over the feckless RINOs and sell-outs in the Texas Republican Party, public opinion data reveals that the opposite is playing out in the legislature on gun policy: the aggressive minority of conservatives is, for the moment, driving the agenda on guns.
The Second Reading Podcast: Some Political Implications of Texas Attitudes in the Texas Politics Project/UT Energy Institute Poll on the February Winter Storm
The most recent Texas Politics Project statewide poll included job approval ratings for Texas elected officials and President Joe Biden, as well as some policy-related approval items for several leaders. We’ve gathered them in one place for reference below, with selected crosstabs and trend items where available.
While the most recent Texas Politics Project polling project focused primarily Texas attitudes toward the February storm that resulted in infrastructure failures throughout the state, the poll also included a small battery of previously-asked questions checking in on Texans behavior in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a pair of questions about Gov. Abbott’s lifting of capacity limits on businesses and ending of the statewide mask order.
Texans see multiple causes of February’s winter storm outages, support many of the changes being discussed by the Texas Legislature
The results of a March poll developed in conjunction with a team of researchers at the UT Energy Institute asked dozens of questions about Texans’ experience during the winter storm, their attitudes toward causes and consequences of the storm, their views of, and expectations about, possible policy responses, and their views of how a wide range of actors from their neighbors and utility providers to state political leaders, regulatory bodies, and corporate actors.
While our joint venture with colleagues at the UT Energy Institute focused primarily on research questions related to Texans’ experiences during the winter storm and the infrastructure outages that followed, the results also provide rich context for the legislative wrangling over the appropriate policy response(s) to the storm and the multidimensional politics surrounding it. The data is fresh and there’s more drilling down to be done, but here are some initial impressions, with more to come after the holiday break. You can find all the results and hundreds of graphics on our latest poll page, and if you want to take a look at the questionnaire and topline results or take your own deep dive into the crosstabs (or even the data itself), it can all be found in our polling data archive.